“But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:2-4 NLT
God knows you
How amazing it is to know that Almighty God knows and calls me by name!
I live in the countryside and my nearest neighbour is a dairy and sheep farmer. His animals are a ‘model agency’ right on my doorstep, for my passions for painting and photography. Of course the black and white Friesian cows all look exactly identical to me, as do the dirty, off white sheep. To my untrained non-farm girl eye they look like they all came off the same conveyor belt.
One day a few years ago I was chatting to the farmer over our garden wall. He asked me about my paintings, and I mentioned that I had just sold a painting of one of his cows. I showed him a photo of the painting; with a nostalgic look on his face, he said ‘ah yes, I remember her; She was a good ‘un.’ I was astounded! But my neighbour went on to explain that he knew every one of his herd, past and present, as well as his sheep, and that each one has its own personality. No two are the same.
I often remember that conversation when I read about Jesus being my shepherd.
He knows you. No one knows you or me as intimately as God does: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father…..” (John 10:14-15a)
God Calls you by name
God wants to have conversations with you. Think about it – If you call out person’s name, it’s because you are trying to get their attention to say something to them or connect with them in some way. God looks for ways to have meaningful connection with you and I every day.
He leads you out
Out of where?
Often, sheep and goats would have been all placed together in the same shelter. Our Shepherd, Jesus comes and calls us His sheep, by name; separating us, ‘calling us out’ from that generic mixed flock, where we tried to meet our own needs. That ‘man made shelter’ of self righteousness, and self help and striving and people pleasing and religiosity – He calls us out, into His green pastures, to lead us beside the still waters. (Also see Psalm 23)
He goes before you
Eastern shepherds didn’t usually ‘drive’ their sheep before them, the we do in the west. Jesus, the Great Shepherd goes before us to direct our steps and set an example to us of how we should walk. He sees the dangers and trials we’ll face long before we even get to them – and he teaches us how to walk through those times, with our eyes fixed on our Shepherd, our ears tuned to his voice.
Another thought struck me – because Jesus ‘goes before us’ or literally walks in front of us, we can choose to literally walk in his footsteps.
Jill Mcilreavy 💜