(By Rachel Joyce)
Is the Lord your Shepherd? How are you doing with following His leading?
The psalmist David knew what it was to follow his Shepherd. He wrote:
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water…He leads me down the right paths” (Psalm 23:1-3).
He knew that being led by God meant satisfaction, refreshment, and ultimately the best path for him to take. Even though sometimes the Shepherd led through “dark valleys,” He was always there for protection and comfort.
The same is true for us. Jesus expressed the depth of the good shepherd’s love, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He accepted the cross-death because it was the only way for the sheep to become His.
His sheep are precious to the Good Shepherd. He loves to be with them, to lead and care for them.
Jesus explained, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice” (John 10:3-4).
Middle eastern shepherds usually travel in the front, leading the way and making sure the path is safe ahead of them. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
The sheep follow because they trust the shepherd. They recognize his voice. “They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice” (John 10:5).
Is the voice of the Good Shepherd familiar to you? Do you spend time in His presence getting to know who He is and becoming accustomed to His voice?
We live in an age of distractions with a million and one voices clamoring to be heard.
Do you take time to cultivate stillness so you can listen for the voice of God? Letting Him lead necessitates listening to His voice.
Sometimes He calls us to stand still: “Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf” (2 Chronicles 20:17). “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14).
Other times, He tells us to move on: “You have circled this mountain long enough [It’s time to move on].” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3).
You can’t follow His leading if you don’t recognize His voice. His heart’s desire is for closeness with you. He prayed, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am….I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them” (John 17:24, 26).
The “right path” that the Good Shepherd leads you on is the one to the Father’s home, the place of complete acceptance, love, and belonging.
Can you hear Him calling you to follow Him?