I am Jesus’ little lamb; ever glad at heart I am,
For my shepherd gently guides me, knows my needs and well provides me,
Loves me ev’ry day the same, even calls me by my name.
Christian Worship 432:1
From little on, most children love sheep and lambs. They are soft, fluffy, and docile. To be called one of Jesus’ little lambs sounds quite endearing. The life of a shepherd sounds peaceful, serene, full of endless hours of quiet solitude. I’m guessing that especially at this busy time of year, that scene is rather appealing. However, if you’ve read anything on sheep and shepherding, it may not be too far from your daily setting. Sheep, while rather docile, are not always the brightest or most alert animal. They are prone to wandering (sound familiar?) and finding themselves lost at best and in grave danger at the worst. They don’t know the difference between good drinking water and a toxic pool. They can get themselves stuck in places that make it nigh to impossible to get out without some aid. Does this sound at all familiar? We really are sheep when it comes to our spiritual failures and shortcomings. We wander from Jesus and his Word. We put ourselves in grave spiritual danger. We often don’t even realize how hazardous to our spiritual health are the many influences we consume all around us. The life of a sheep isn’t exactly a life to be envied or exalted.
Ah, the peaceful life of a shepherd. Maybe not, right? His role requires him to constantly be on alert around the clock. His trusty staff is used for gentle prodding to lead a sheep back to the fold or to help ward off an attacking animal looking for meal. He is constantly watching the flock to be sure that all are where they need to be, eating what is safe, and avoiding dangerous places where they could fall. Like a teacher on a field trip, he is fervently taking role call to be sure that no one has separated from the group.
This is the picture of our dear Shepherd in the hymn and in our verse for today. Motivated by his overwhelming love for each of us, he gently guides us with his Word. He knows our needs, physical and spiritual, and provides for us each and every day. He watches over us constantly to see if we are slipping or falling away from him. On the rough days, he loves us. On the good days, he loves us. His love is consistent and unwavering. No sin, no misstep, no failure, changes his love for us. He loves us the same every day.
He even knows our names. Not just our names, but everything about us. He knows what we need, what we like, our weaknesses, our fears, our failures. He knows each of us and loves each of us with a love that is beyond the love of a shepherd for his sheep or the love of a teacher for her students. He loves each of us with the love of a Savior. Because of this, we can always be “glad at heart”, safe in his loving care.
So, this week and every week, lean on your Good Shepherd. He loves to hear you as you come to him in prayer. He loves to hear your heart of gratitude and your anxious fears. It is his heart’s desire that you remain close to him today, each day, and when he calls you home to him in heaven.
Jesus, shepherd of the sheep, who your Father’s flock does keep, safe we wake and safe we sleep, guarded still by you.
In your promise firm we stand; none can take us from your hand. Speak—we hear—at your command, we will follow you. Amen.
Christian Worship 436: 1-2
A Question to Consider: To understand more about the life of a shepherd, do a search on sheep and shepherds to learn about the parallels between the earthly shepherd and your Good Shepherd, between earthly sheep and the Good Shepherd’s sheep.
Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.