Devotional: The Fearless Shepherd
One of my favorite illustrations in the Bible is the idea of God being our shepherd. It’s referenced so many times throughout the Bible and I find it to be one of the most comforting, beautiful visuals. I was reading in Ezekiel today and came across a passage in chapter 34, where God is describing how the people of Israel are like sheep without a shepherd. He speaks of searching for His sheep, who are scattered and lost in the wilderness. He wants to rescue them from dangerous animals, bring them safely home, give them lush pastures, and let them lay down in peace without having to worry about danger. It’s such a cool passage of the Bible.
As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think about Psalm 23 and all the other verses that describe Jesus as our good shepherd. I started looking up every verse on this topic and then I am to this:
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. ” Luke 15:4-5
I’ve read this verse many times, but this time the last sentence stuck out like a lightening bolt: the shepherd will happily carry the sheep home on his shoulders. How incredibly beautiful is that visual? Can you imagine the relief of the little sheep as he sees his protective, fearless shepherd come to his rescue? Maybe he was caught in something and helpless to escape. Maybe a dangerous animal was threatening him. Maybe he had no food or water. He was alone, scared, and desperate to be saved.
The brave shepherd rescues him and carries him home. Jesus Christ does this for us. He comes for us when we are lost, broken, scared, and helpless.
On July 30th, when I was in a very low place, Jesus came to me in my darkness. As I was crying out in prayer, I had a clear visual of Jesus walking through a crowd of people towards me. I was in chains, standing in front of the enemy. Jesus walked up to me, unlocked my chains with a key, and said, “Sarah, it’s ok. You are safe with me.” Then He picked me up and carried me. I saw this play out in my mind and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced with God. It was a life changing moment and one that I’m still processing and trying to understand fully. (I shared more details about it here.)
Reading these passages and comparing them to my own experience leaves me in awe. In that moment of prayer, Jesus literally carried me like the verse describes. I’m blown away as my eyes are opened to see more and more of God’s goodness, love, and concern for each one of us. He came to me in the darkest season of my life, when depression and anxiety tried to defeat me. And like a good shepherd, He rescued me. He came for me, leaving the ninety nine to search for the one lost in the wilderness. And He comes for you too.
I don’t know what battles you’re facing right now, but I encourage you to truly see Jesus as your good shepherd. Close your eyes and visualize Him coming for you. Visualize all of His protection surrounding you like fire. Visualize Him covering you with His love and power. He is the one who will fight for you, protect you, comfort you in your weakest hour, and strengthen you to keep going. He is your good shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 1The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. 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. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15
“The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety. When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 34:27