You Need a Good Shepherd

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The Bible mentions sheep around two hundred times, depending on which translation you're looking at. Sheep were common livestock, and were offered as sacrifices by Israel. The imagery of a shepherd caring for his flock is used in both the Old and New Testament as a picture of how God cares for his people.

Now I don't know a lot about sheep, but I've been told they aren't particularly bright or brave. They need to be kept penned or guarded so predators can't get at them, so they don't wander off, and so that they don't panic and scatter when startled. Probably like a lot of herd animals, I guess.

I suspect sheep don't much care for change. They mostly like to stay in a safe place where there's good grazing. But apparently, sheep will follow a shepherd they have learned to trust, and that is the point of the Good Shepherd imagery.

Unless it's my own bright idea, I'm not all the crazy about change either. Most people aren't. In fact, we often have the tendency to just stay where we think it's safe. Or wander back to what's familiar even it wasn't good. And when we're surprised by a sudden change in circumstances, we might even panic and make our situation worse by running away.

Trust God to lead you when you need to change. If something needs to change in your life - kicking harmful habits, getting out of volatile situations, follow him to safety or to better pastures. Spend time in prayer and in God's Word and he will let you know what you need to do. The changes God asks you to make may be hard, but he sees more than you do. Trust him and follow.

Trust God when he gives a boundary. You might be tempted to change the rules or to test the boundaries, but God's Word doesn't change, so think and pray about your decisions. If you've been led away from something that wasn't good for you, trust the new boundary God's set up for your safety and don't wander back to the familiar rather than accept that the change was necessary.

Trust God to protect and rescue when you are threatened or afraid. Unexpected or overwhelming changes can be terrifying. You can prepare for some possibilities - like having emergency savings, good insurance, a retirement plan, or contingency plans for some events - but you can't anticipate everything that might happen. And it's not healthy to overthink all of them. What you can do is establish your faith in God and learn to recognize his voice. Practice listening and following him, and your heart will be ready to hear him when you're facing something that frightens or overwhelms you. You can experience his peace during chaos.

We are sheep, and we need a Good Shepherd.

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will like down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. ~Ezekiel 34:11-15

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  ~John 10:3-4

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. ~John 10:27

For the Write 28 Days Blogging Challenge, I've decided to explore the theme of living well and with purpose during times of change. A few years ago, as I neared the end of my years as a homeschool mom, I realized my world would change when my youngest graduated. My roles in the homeschool community and in my social circles were affected. Things changed in the workplace. Things are ever changing at church. And as my children grew up and the nest has begun to empty, family dynamics are changing. To our surprise, my husband's job ended at the very beginning of 2022, and that has brought another round of changes to consider! I know very well that writing about coping with change is not the same as having all the answers. I'll do my best to share what I'm learning and experiencing, and I'd love to hear from others in the comments.

This post is part of the Write 28 Days Blogging Challenge hosted by Anita Ojeda. Find all my posts for the 2022 challenge here: 28 Days of Coping With Change

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