This Is Why God Is Searching For You
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
“Like a shepherd he takes care of his flock,” wrote Isaiah the prophet of Israel. “He gathers the lambs in his arms. He carries them in his arms. He gently helps the sheep and their lambs” (Isaiah 40:11, GWV). No wonder the soul of George Frederick Handel, the man who wrote Messiah, was stirred as he pondered those words.
Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ, yet the image of a shepherd is almost as powerful in the Middle East today as it was then. From the burning sands of the Sahara to the gentle hills where the blue Mediterranean meets land, shepherds are still found in abundance.
Frankly, it takes a certain kind of personality to be able to handle both the isolation and loneliness of a shepherd’s life as well as the toughness in withstanding the weather, the long hours, and, frankly, the boredom of chasing wayward sheep hour after hour, day after day.
“Like a shepherd he takes care of his flock,” wrote Isaiah of the Almighty. David, who spent his early years as a shepherd, wrote that “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Of all the creatures that God ever made, sheep are among the least intelligent. Lions roam the tall grass. Alligators need none to protect them. Birds take to the air. But without a shepherd to protect them, sheep wander off into danger and soon fall prey to disaster.
In spite of the fact that much has changed in our world, other things have changed very little, including our ability as weak human beings to get into a heap of trouble and stray far from the safety of the sheepfold. You would think that we would learn something from the mistakes of our parents. Not so! We make our own mistakes, thinking that we are different, we think the rules which applied a generation ago are no longer in effect.
No wonder Isaiah wrote, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). One of the amazing things about the Bible, is that authors may be separated by centuries and by cultures, yet they say the same thing. Both the Old and New Testaments picture God, our Heavenly Father, as one who cares for His own. In spite of our failure, and our wandering dereliction from what we know is right, is a shepherd searching for lost sheep. Jesus told the story of a shepherd who has 99 sheep in the fold, but he leaves the ones in safety to seek out the one lost sheep, and when it is found there is rejoicing.
May I ask, bottom line: can you relate to the one lost sheep, somewhere out there, estranged and cut off from the care of the shepherd, from the warmth of a father’s love? The fact is that the shepherd of your soul is searching for you far more than you are for Him. God at times uses gentle persuasion to get our attention: sometimes difficulty, sometimes the pain of a broken relationship, sometimes heartache or rejection. Then you realize that the missing ingredient of your life is a relationship with God, and the Shepherd of our souls leads us back home.
The story which Jesus told of a youth who rebelled against his father’s authority and journeyed far into the world—we call it the story of the Prodigal Son—is a picture of the Father’s love for the son who has strayed.
There’s good news, friend. No matter where you are, or how far you have strayed, the gentle shepherd will lead you home. Remember, “He gathers the lambs in his arms.”
Resource reading: Isaiah 53:1-6