The Shepherd

By: Kristen L. McNulty

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"For the Lamb who stands in front of the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water." (Revelation 7:7)

In perhaps one of the most well-known psalms around, David writes "The Lord is my shepherd" (Psalm 23:1). For David, this is a very personal statement because being a shepherd was what he did for many years. For you and I, however, its much harder to picture what God being our shepherd means. Living where we do and in the time that we do, we don't know many shepherds. In fact, maybe the closest thing we have to a shepherd is those directing traffic in the big cities. And let's face it, they can just be plain mean if you're not moving fast enough. Yes, I speak from experience.

Fortunately for us the Bible gives us a beautiful picture of what a shepherd is. First through the life of young David who went to great lengths to protect his flock. Then through the story that Jesus told. One of a shepherd who was willing to leave the 99 to find the one that was lost:

"So Jesus used this illustration: 'If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it hoe on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.'" (Luke 15:3-6)

The mentality of a shepherd goes against everything we know. If you or I were the shepherd in that story, we would have probably counted our losses with the one who wandered off and instead stayed and protected the 99 still in our possession. After all, it's just one sheep, we would argue. And we have ninety-nine others.

But that's not what a true shepherd does, we learn. A shepherd cares for each one in his flock like they were the only one he was entrusted to care for. Lovingly he leads, guides, and protects each little sheep in his pasture. No matter how far they wander off, he searches and he doesn't stop until he comes home with that little sheep in his arms.

That's love, that's commitment, and that's exactly the kind of a Father that we have looking out for us.

Psalm 121:8 says "The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever." It doesn't say that God keeps watch over us only when He's not busy with other things or only when we're toeing the line. It says God watches over both our coming and going, today and forever. No matter where we find ourselves in our lives, God our Shepherd is there. Lovingly watching our every step. Pointing out the path to take and when we wander, He stands ready to leave the 99 to bring us back.

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This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.