Thankful for my Shepherd

“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.”       Ezekiel 34:11-12 (NLT)

[Jesus said,] “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”          John 14:1-3 (NLT)

On recent Mondays I have looked at the lectionary texts for the previous Sunday. This week I am going to look at a passage a day as they were all about “thanks” and that seems a good subject for this week.

Ezekiel 34:11-14, 20-24

I never thought about this Ezekiel passage as it relates to Jesus’ personal metaphor that He is our shepherd. The Father said it first, didn’t He? He made the promise when the Israelites were in exile that they would return home. They had hope. They understood what it meant to be “aliens” in a land. They yearned to return to the place that was familiar. That was home.

In our modern western world, we do not have “exile” experiences. We may move to various parts of our country but we generally have the same language and access to familiar foods. We continue to worship our LORD in a familiar way. Jesus, in John’s gospel, speaks to what we should recognize as home. And that isn’t where I currently reside.

More and more I am feeling less “comfortable” in this world. Language, culture, interests that are promoted leave me flat. Promises made are promises easily broken. I find words and promises like Jesus speaks in John’s gospel to be “juicy” and “comforting” and filled with hope. They enter my heart and confirm to me in that place where I know that I know – I have a promise I can count on. I begin to wrap my mind and live my life based on eternal plans. Plans that cannot be demolished by the winds of crumbling banks or kowtowing politicians. I see my weaknesses now as what God can use and make something with His power. This is an “upside down” revelation for me. I have always wanted to be in control. I am learning to see that my weaknesses and limitations are opportunities for God to be magnified, not me.

As we move toward a day when we focus on thanks, let us begin today to give thanks for our Shepherd who has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Our Shepherd has kept His promises and will keep His promise to bring us home to Him. He has prepared a home that is beyond any Extreme Makeover! I look at Niagara Falls, galaxies from the Hubble Telescope, the first snowfall of the year, and even my newborn grandchild – and I know that my promised “heavenly home” is better. Thank you, Father.

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