“I am the good shepherd.” John 10:11, 14

Jesus is committed to caring and watching over those who are His.

For those of you who personally know me and read this article, I have a thing for flamingos. One year when our son was visiting one of his best friends in Georgia be brought me back a walking stick. This stick looks a little like a shepherd’s hook with a flamingo on the end. I use it when I walk trails when it has rained in the fall when it can be a little slippery. The stick helps in rough terrain. I can feel more confident when I am walking with the stick or in terms of a shepherd, staff.

Shepherds use the sticks for all kinds of things. They use it to grab sheep that wonder off the trail. At times sheep get distracted and graze out of the safety of the group as well as the shepherd. The shepherd can grab them by the hook and put them back in the pack. They also can use the stick to fight off those that would want to harm the sheep. Some shepherds led the sheep with the stick by tapping the ground with commands. The sheep might know two taps stop. Three taps might mean go. The shepherd will also lead the sheep to water where they can drink and rest by a quiet stream.

Our shepherd (Jesus) tells us that the sheep know his voice. Are we listening to Him? Are we taking time to rest with the shepherd? Are we taking time to listen to the shepherd? So many times we want to talk to the shepherd but we do not want to listen. Shepherd, I need you now. I need you to do this and this and this! Shepherd, where are you?!When I train myself to hear the taps of the staff/stick I am able to remain calm in dangerous situations because I have learned my shepherd is faithful. Now, if I have confused you at all here in this paragraph I am referring to Jesus as our shepherd as he himself declares himself to be.

Jesus used a shepherd illustration because shepherds were common in Bible times. People recognized the shepherd in the village or wherever they were out and about. I wonder if people can recognize us as Christians when we are out and about. Are we trying to help our fellow sheep with what they need, following our leading shepherd’s teachings, illustrations and examples?

If not, why not?

It is time we follow and are committed to Christ and to others! I for one plan on listening and following the shepherd where He leads. I will go to church and small groups so I can graze. I will go on times of silent reflection and be by still waters. I will listen for his tap tap in the direction He wants me to go. I will look for other sheep that need to meet the shepherd personally.

The Rev. TRACEY ZIMMERMAN serves at Fremont United Methodist Church and Nevada Mills United Methodist Church

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