Safe in the Great Shepherd's Loving Arms
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O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! (Psalm 95:6-7 NRSV)
A sheep’s wool is the most widely used animal fiber in the world. It is remarkably resilient, an excellent heat insulator, and more environmentally friendly than other fabrics. Sheep’s wool is used for clothing, blankets, carpeting, insulation, and upholstery. Thank God for sheep!
Despite all their practical uses (not to mention being a cute, fluffy animal that children love!), sheep are also very dependent creatures. They have poor depth perception, causing them to shy away from shadows and dips in the ground and limiting their mobility. They are quite timid and lack natural adaptations to defend themselves from predators. A sheep’s lifespan is very much dependent on the competency of its shepherd. Without the watch-care and protection of a good shepherd, a sheep is liable to lose its way, or worse, its life at the hand of a predator.
The psalmist likened the identity of God’s people to sheep. Those who have placed their faith in God are welcomed into His lush pasture. There we roam, find nourishment, and receive protection from the hand of our Maker. Before entering God’s flock, we, like sheep, had “gone astray” and were in danger of the misfortunes of the world (Isaiah 53:6). Yet, as Jesus describes in the parable of the lost sheep, our Great Shepherd left the safety of His post and set out in search for us, eager to ensure that not “one of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:14). Indeed, Jesus was willing to venture the furthest distance, even to lay “down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Although we were like wandering and lost sheep, Jesus left His Father’s side in heaven, subjected Himself to the calamities of this world, and sought us out. A valiant and unrelenting Shepherd, He finds each one of us and, with arms wide open, is ready to carry us home. Though weak and needy on our own, He sees every bit of our created potential, and can’t wait to restore us to His pasture.
Lord, we thank You for loving us first and sending Your Son, the Great Shepherd of the flock. We ask that the lost sheep would turn and hear Your voice today. Thank You that You have searched out and are ready to welcome with open arms each one into the safety of Your abundant, eternal pasture.
New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition (NRSVEU). Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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