We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way. (Isaiah 53:6)
If you’ve spent any time in the Scriptures, you know that the Bible compares the saints of God with sheep. There are many reasons our Lord does this; none of them are particularly flattering. Sheep are defenseless and need constant protection; they are directionless and need constant correction; they are skittish and easily spooked, even when there is no reason for it, and need a constant, calming presence. To be compared to sheep at this present time seems particularly pertinent; we are all facing this spooky global pandemic, which has made us all quite skittish!
But there is one reason above all others why the Bible refers to the people of God as sheep so often, and it should provide us cosmic comfort during this unprecedentedly uncomfortable time. Sheep simply cannot survive without a shepherd, and the same is true for the sheep of God. And our God has given us just what we need; we have the only true Good Shepherd . . . and His name is Jesus Christ.
Our Good Shepherd not only loves us and cares for us, but He laid down His life for His sheep. He has protected us from the penalty of our sins; how much more will He protect us from this pandemic, whether we become ill or not? Because our Good Shepherd died and rose from the grave, we have the absolute assurance that the last enemy of man—death—has also been conquered. As Paul said so beautifully, death has lost its sting for the sheep of God.
A good shepherd always stays close to his sheep, who sense his presence and know his voice. At the voice of a stranger, the sheep will run off; but when they hear their shepherd’s voice, they advance in his direction, knowing that they will be safe and secure in his presence. This is where their foolishness finds its end: What sheep lack in direction, they more than make up for in distinction. They know the voice of their shepherd and draw near to him.
We are sheepish when we faithfully follow the voice of our Good Shepherd, regardless of where Hs is leading us . . . which today has been into the path of this pandemic. We are foolish when we do not follow Him. Perhaps we are listening to so many other voices that we fail to hear His still, small voice whispering to us. Perhaps it will take a bit of pain, as C. S. Lewis said, to cause us to hear His voice calling to us. Jesus wants us to look to Him, listen to Him, and advance toward him as we make our way through this time of social distancing and family separation.
Christian, know that social distancing does not apply to our relationship with our Good Shepherd, who leads us into green pastures and restores our souls and who loves us unconditionally, in spite of our foolishness, every step of the way. Please remember this: His perfect love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). So be sheepish this day!
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,