A pastor was reflecting upon the frequent reference Jesus made to sheep, often likening the people of God to a flock of sheep without a shepherd.
But why, of all animals, the allusion to sheep?
In truth, the sheep is a strange and funny animal. If there is any way in which it can land itself in trouble, you can rest assured that it will find it! And this is something that the shepherd has to reckon with all the time.
Now, now… doesn’t that sound somewhat familiar?
How many times have I put myself in a frightful mess simply though my hardheadedness?
Wasn’t that how I committed adultery? It all started as quite an innocent frolic! But it ended up dangerously close to destroying my marriage, not to mention the unimaginable heartache caused to my wife, children and close friends.
And how many times have I slipped in and out of the habit of watching pornography always misguided by the illusion that it was simply a momentary caper to amuse my curiosity? Only to realize, when it was too late, that I was “hooked’ on it as an escapade from reality.
And invariably with hindsight, realizing that it always coincided with uncomfortable periods of crisis that I was seeking to soothe away through this “drug”.
And also, again with hindsight, realizing, after much pain, that pornography feeds egotism and gives you an uncontrollable attitude of intolerance and an utter disregard for the feelings of others.
And on and on; I could even reach as far back to the days when I started slipping from my Christian beliefs and wandered away from the Church. Yes, even that experience is a treasure to learn from.
I had been carried away by a sense of knowing what was best! I…. I…. I knew and I was at the center of the whole universe. I could decide what was right and what was wrong, what I could do and not do… it actually was a childish sense of rebellion against Authority. Basically, it was an outright rebellion against God who had decreed that my life’s circumstances should be the way they are, when I totally disagreed and decreed that they should have been much, much better!
What a long trek through the desert it was until I found my way back to the point from where I started! And then only to realize that those very circumstances that I had rebelled against were God’s inimitable way of showing me His infinite and unconditional love!
And Jesus has to reckon with this hardheadedness of mine to this very day. The story of the unfaithful people of Israel is lived over and over again in my life. And, like the dedicated shepherd who loves his flock and is ready to defend it with his life, He patiently endures this and untiringly comes looking for me whatever the mischief I find myself embroiled in.
Now THAT is what I call love! Unconditional, unshakable love. And THAT is what gives me peace in my soul, resting in the knowledge of being loved just as I am.