The Love of a Father
What is it about the image of a lowly shepherd that instills in us a reminder of the love of our Father, the king of all love? Throughout scripture, from Genesis to Romans, this is the picturesque scene that tells of the wandering in our lives, and the constant guiding hand and voice that leads us.
The One who is the gatekeeper, and who does not passively watch over but continually seeks after each one of us. John 10:2-4
In a beautiful contemporary rendition of this traditional hymn Sarah Kroger offers a very moving refrain from the sheep's perspective. For, if you "knew that Jesus is your shepherd..How could your heart ever turn away?" And still we do, but when we do we are not met with anger or unforgiveness but instead with love and mercy.
"Confused and foolish I have strayed but yet in love he sought me". Luke 15:3-7
Poignantly, I understand this scripture passage all too well in the challenging life decisions of my oldest son. Troubled and looking for an easy way, his choices have led him to a life and a path that we most certainly would not have chosen for him. Unable to truly feel God's love and seeking consolation in a myriad of unsteady friends, alcohol and drugs he wanders. Unable to hear the Shepherd's voice for the loud din of the world he finds himself walking in circles with no discernible signposts.
All the while God is calling and seeking to draw him close.
I nothing lack if I am His..
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want... Psalm 23:1 Wants and needs, I think of this often in my own daily choices. Are my wants, His wants and my needs one and the same? A shepherd provides for the basic needs of his flock, guards for their protection, and tends to what is best for each of them. If my wants are in line with Christ, then I will lack nothing that I need.
His Goodness faileth never..
Allowing God to lead does not mean that we will not know sorrow or difficulties. Rather, in our distress, we are given hope and comforted by His immeasurable love. Momentary emptiness, replaced and surmounted by a once inconceivable peace. At the apex of seeming despair over seeking to help my oldest son, I found peace. Through tears,and surrender I found hope.
"You are my song and strength"
Why do we sing His praise? Because we recognize "that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves". Psalm 100:3 Humbly, and awestruck we stand in the His presence and in gratitude for His love we sing of all that he has done for us. Oh, how he longs to be our shepherd and for us to be His people. If "today, (we) would (but) hear His voice". Psalm 95:7
"Home rejoicing brought me" ..."You are mine forever"
Our earthly existence here is a temporary place, but the home with God that awaits is a forever home. All of our time spent grazing,wandering away from, and running to the shelter of His love will come to a rest one day. It is a time that I seek, pray and strive towards, and like a child joyfully anticipate. In Christ, "I am convinced that neither death nor life... nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.
This is the promise and care of the King of Love That My Shepherd Is!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
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What words come to mind as you contemplate Jesus? Do you relate more to him as King or Shepherd?
Elizabeth Reardon, MA of Religious Education Loyola University, is Director of Parish Ministries for Saint Paul and Resurrection Parishes in Hingham, MA, radio show host of An Engaging Faith, and writer at Theologyisaverb.com. With a heart for connecting the faith to the work of justice and reconciliation in our communities, she hopes others will become captivated with the “more” that our faith offers.