He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
—Psalm 23:3 NLT
Some people are news junkies. They can tell you at any moment all that’s happening in the world and what they think about it. Though I love how technology connects me to faraway loved ones, I hate how that same technology dumps a world of need at my doorstep every day. Those troubles are piled on top of the concerns already part of my immediate circle. It can feel overwhelming.
What I need is the permission to be a sheep. Sheep have one job—to follow the shepherd. That simplicity is freeing and perfectly portrayed by Jesus, who also “lived in a broken world during a tumultuous time.”* He constantly sought His Father’s direction so that He did only what the Father wanted Him to do. He wasn’t mistakenly swayed by people’s sufferings or by His disciples’ expectations.
When Jesus walked on earth, tragedies and injustices were happening in places where he did not choose to take his body. Though he cared about these “pains of elsewhere” far more than any human ever could, they did not put his mind into an anxious state. He didn’t live with a vague sense of guilt for those he didn’t heal. He knew he would set all things to right, but not all at once.**
Interestingly, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, modeled for us the life of a beloved sheep. He entrusted Himself completely to God, allowing the Father to guide Him daily and take care of the consequences. This produced a winsome life “characterized by flexibility, not predictability.”***
Recently I had the joy of leading two little boys on a hike through the woods near our home. I knew them well enough to know that the younger one would be eager to explore, ready to jump off anything I allowed him to climb. The older brother, not so much. So I planned our little hike to arrive at specific points of interest and timed how long it would take us to walk it. When the day arrived for the hike, the boys behaved as I thought they would. Both enjoyed discovering new territory, but it’s because I knew and respected their limits. They couldn’t have made it without me, and I wouldn’t have wanted them to. Being together was part of the gift.
Like Jesus, we’re graced not only with the Father’s loving oversight but with the Spirit’s personal presence. He knows our limits, our wishes, our joys, our fears; and He knows the way to a life that honors Jesus while maturing us.
ACTION: What current events trouble you? Do you sense that God wants you to take action in some way? If not, how might Jesus’ example set your heart free? What would a life characterized by Spirit-led flexibility look like on you? How might greater flexibility strengthen your security with the Shepherd?
*Renovare Weekly, Brian Morykon, August 20, 2021
***Desiring God’s Will, David Benner, p. 26