Our Magnificent Shepherd
Encounter: When you wake up and before you get out of bed, read through and meditate on Psalm 23, then close your time by reading through Luke 15:1-7 in The Passion Translation. At bedtime read Isaiah 40:11.
I encountered lost sheep today, actually there were two. The difference was only one knew they were lost.
My sister and I were sitting on the patio at our local Mexican restaurant enjoying the warm weather when all of a sudden, a woman came up to us from the parking lot. She was clearly agitated and we could tell drug abuse was taking its toll. She needed money for a gallon of water she said and I told her I was sorry. It broke my heart to see this lamb struggling and begging. Somewhere along the journey, a thief came and lead her away from her shepherd. I wanted to know her story, but she was not in a way that she could tell it.
Moments later we noticed a group of adults and children staring out at the road, pointing fingers, taking a video with their phone, making fun at her and laughing. We looked and out in the street was the woman who had come up to our table. Yelling at the imaginary people around her, and walking dangerously close to traffic, all the while the people in the restaurant began to mock her. Even one of their sons came up behind me and said, “If she comes over here I’ll hit her.”
We were shocked at the hatred spewing from the young man’s mouth and even more stunned that his parents did not say a word to correct him. There was no compassion or sadness for the woman, only contempt. I wanted to turn around and tell him that without the grace of God in your life, you can end up on that same path, begging for money to try and satisfy a thirst that only the Great Shepherd of the sheep can fill. You too, son, are lost unless you follow your Shepherd.
When I see this, I always believe that someone lied to the woman about who God really is and what God is really like. And another liar is poisoning the mind of the young man. Dallas Willard tells us,
“It’s the problem of wrong ideas. As someone said long ago, “It ain’t what we know that hurts us. It’s what we know that ain’t so.” All the things that we know about God that “ain’t so” destroy our lives, poison us, throw our lives off kilter and throw our bodies out of an appropriate relationship to reality. Wrong ideas about God make it impossible for us to function in relationship to one another. We are not able to love one another because we do not have our minds filled with an accurate vision of God.”
And what is an accurate vision?
“There once was a shepherd with a hundred lambs, but one of his lambs wandered away and was lost. So the shepherd left the ninety-nine lambs out in the open field and searched in the wilderness for that one lost lamb. He didn’t stop until he finally found it. With exuberant joy, he raised it up, placed it on his shoulders,[a] and carried it back with cheerful delight! 6 Returning home, he called all his friends and neighbors together and said, ‘Let’s have a party! Come and celebrate with me the return of my lost lamb. It wandered away, but I found it and brought it home.’
Our Magnificent Shepherd is in the process of bringing us home. Jesus desires to give us rest and lead us to quiet waters of peace that will forever be a source of abundant life. Life that we then allow to move through our lives to others. Truly, A Life without Lack.
Now may the God who brought us peace by raising from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ so that he would be the Great Shepherd of his flock; and by the power of the blood of the eternal covenant, may he work perfection into every part of you giving you all that you need to fulfill your destiny.
In His Flock,
Reflect: Do you have an accurate idea of what God is like in his nature? Can you think of a time in your life when a wrong idea about God has adversely affected you? Describe it and how a correct view of God turned things around for you.
Encourage: Is there a friend or family member that has ideas about God that are nothing like how Jesus, our Great Shepherd, reveals himself to be? Pray that God would give you the words to describe him to others. Maybe begin with Psalm 23, writing it in a card and placing the picture above on the front. Images can at time speak louder than words.
Gather: Begin to study Chapter 3 in the book Life without Lack. Have you ever wondered why God even bothered creating humans? It seems that all we do is mess things up. The scriptures describe a God who loves to create and desired a relationship with his creation. Take the study guide in the back of the book and discuss the questions Dallas gives for each chapter.