While in the Romanian village of Cornesti, I’m staying at a ministry that serves abused and abandoned women and children, orphans, and senior widows. Beyond the security fence surrounding the property lie rolling green pastures. Grazing on those pastures are dozens of sheep.
From a distance, the scene appears pastoral. The sheep bleat occasionally, and all is well for the wooly creatures—thanks to the shepherd who oversees their welfare.
Several years ago when visiting this area, I saw a flock of sheep and its shepherd close-up. I also saw the sheep dog with teeth bared, poised for attack if I stepped from the car. There was no way the canine was going to let me near the critters in his care, and there was no way I was going to challenge him.
My exposure to sheep is minimal at best, but even that’s taught me a few insights that have helped me better understand Jesus’s role as our Shepherd (Psalm 23):
- Jesus is always watchful over us.
A shepherd keeps constant vigil over his animals because he understands their vulnerability. Jesus is all the more vigilant over us. He never sleeps, never checks out because He doesn’t feel like showing up for work, and never abandons us to pursue other interests. He knows we’re vulnerable to temptation and discouragement, and He’s always present to protect us from falling prey to Satan’s underhanded schemes. Our well-being is His first and foremost concern, and He’s fully present for us.
- Jesus provides everything we need.
A shepherd leads his flocks to pastures where they can eat and be filled. He leads them to still waters where they can drink and be satisfied. He knows exactly what their needs are and how best to meet them, and he will do his job with excellence because his flock’s well-being reflects his shepherding “smarts” and skills.
Jesus knows what our needs are, and He will provide. Sometimes those needs are physical—food, clothes, rent money. Sometimes they’re emotional or spiritual. Even though He knows what our needs are, He wants us to ask Him to provide because conversation with Him strengthens relationship with Him.
- Jesus enables us to rest.
A good shepherd assures that his flock receives the rest it needs. He desires not that circumstances exhaust us emotionally or physically but that we experience His strength to revive, restore, and renew us in the midst of the stresses we face.
What are your needs today? Whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual, rest assured that Jesus—as your Shepherd—knows everything about them. He understands them better than you do, and He’s more than willing and able to address them. Will you let Him? Will you trust Him to do His job?