John: Day 12

The Good Shepherd

by

Today's Text: John 10:1-42, Micah 2:12-13, Numbers 27:16-17

Text: John 10:1-42, Micah 2:12-13, Numbers 27:16-17

As an Army brat, I did a lot of following when I was a child. Along with my two sisters and my mother, we followed my dad from station to station, Army base to Army base. We moved every few years from the time I was born until the time my father retired when I was sixteen years old. It was an adventure, a privilege, and at times, it was the worst. We didn’t get to follow orders when we wanted to; we followed them when they were given.

When I think about my life as a Christian, I often assume it’s going to be like my life as an Army brat: God gives the orders; I follow. His leadership is cold, indifferent, and ultimately, His orders exist to serve His purposes alone, not my good. My feelings, fears, and preferences aren’t considered. I am not consulted; I am told, sent, and left to deal with the emotional fallout on my own.

 With that picture as my guide, my feelings toward God become a deadly cocktail of fear, hurt, and distrust. I’m left wondering if He even loves me.

Thankfully, through Scripture, God gives us an entirely different picture of how He leads us in this life. And that picture, time and time again, is not of a cold General leading unsuspecting troops into battle, but of a Good Shepherd tending to His flock, caring for their needs, guiding their grazing.

I have to admit, I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a sheep in a field. But a little internet detective work revealed this: sheep rely heavily on their incredible range of peripheral vision—they can even see behind them without turning their heads. But their depth perception is so poor, they literally cannot see what lies right in front of their noses.

I can say with conviction that these things are true of me, too. It’s easy for me to look to the past behind me, and to the side at what other people are doing. But when I look out in front of me, everything is incredibly hazy. If I’m honest, most of the time, I have no idea where I’m going.

God knows this about me. He knows I have a weak sense of vision, and so He guides me with His voice. He speaks in many ways, and even when I fear He is silent, Scripture reminds me of just how near He really is: providing for me, leading, renewing, and comforting me (Psalm 23).

This is the love of the Good Shepherd in action. With Scripture as my guide, I can see God as He truly is. I can learn from the posture of the sheep: I can follow and rest. I can take in beauty and comfort, even in seemingly dark times. I can love the Shepherd, and trust that no one will ever snatch me from His hands (John 10:28).

There are times when I’d still prefer to follow a god who sends orders via envelope or email, telling me explicitly where to go and what to do next. But that’s not real relationship. The direction and assurance I seek—that each of us need—are found solely in Jesus, the Shepherd-God.

We move toward Him, not only because we want to, but because He is the only Way. His voice is the only one we were meant to follow.
SRT-John16-Instagram12s

Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

  • I completely understand why people were confused after they heard Jesus speak! I’m so grateful for the bigger picture and the way Jesus leads us to protect us & provide for us but ultimately so we can be close to him.

  • Jesus,

    I thank you today for your faithfulness, for being a Good shepherd and for not snatching me out of your hands. I know there are times where I deserve to be snatched out of your hands. There are times I deserve to be plucked out, or to never be forgiven again. But Lord I thank you that even in my often inconsistencies and in my unfaithfulness, that you always remain the same. Father today I ask again for forgiveness for every time I don’t follow you in the way that sheep are supposed to, for the times that I go my own way, for the times that I forget about you, for the times I sin and please my flesh and not you. For the times I am simply distracted by stress and don’t turn to you. Lord forgive me, lord help me to keep my mind in the right place while living in a world that so easily pulls me away. Lord help me to always remember that you are the Good shepherd and that when I follow you, I can endure anything and I can be sure that I am going in the right direction. Lord help me to go in the right direction, help me to follow hard after you. Help me to be consistent and give me a desire to follow you as sheep follow a shepherd. Lord for the rest of this day, I pray that you lead me, I pray for wisdom, I pray that you help me to reflect you, I pray that you change my heart and give me a desire to keep my mind on you. Lord I thank you, that you remain the same. I ask that you heal my Dad, and I thank you that you are also the Good shepherd towards him. Thank you Lord for loving me in my failures, and help me to stay focused on you.

    In Jesus Name

    Amen

  • Thankfully, through Scripture, God gives us an entirely different picture of how He leads us in this life. And that picture, time and time again, is not of a cold General leading unsuspecting troops into battle, but of a Good Shepherd tending to His flock, caring for their needs, guiding their grazing.

  • April Heather

    Well done. This will really stay with me. Loved how your research gave new insight and appreciation for the Shepherd + sheep relationship–and how important that is to our reliance on Jesus. Thank you.

  • Alexandria

    I love your explanation of the sheep with peripheral vision and all! A great new perspective on the sheep analogy. God is so awesome!

    I have only thought of the need of guidance for us but not in this way.

  • I love this Claire! Thank you for sharing! I especially love knowing that sheep truly are a perfect picture of us… it so explains our need for a Shepherd! How easy (and tempting) it is to look behind and see what’s already past, or to look at those running alongside us (in comparison, in envy, or even sometimes for direction)… but our forward vision is limited, creating our need for a Shepherd to guide and direct us. Sheep know this, and they look first to their shepherd for direction. I want to be like that!! I want to look FIRST to my Shepherd… not after I’ve looked back or side-to-side, but FIRST!! Thank You, Lord, for this reminder!

  • Heather Fringer

    I loved your writing today Clair!

  • Heidi Diehl

    I also am catching up a bit, but the verses about not being able to be snatched from the Father’s hand really struck me this morning. I am Mommy to 3 small children and somehow this is vastly comforting to me.
    I have no control over whether or not my children grow up to love and follow Christ, and that can be terrifying sometimes. My job is to prayerfully parent and set them up as best I can to know and walk with the Lord; to show them Jesus in my life, in our marriage, and in our family. But I can take comfort in telling them as they grow up that once you are in God’s hands, nothing can snatch you away – no circumstance you will face, no tragedy or hardship, no person or oppression, not the devil, not even yourself as you slip and stumble – nothing can snatch you away from God. And most importantly, we can live in that freedom as a family so they grow with the proof of that freedom surrounding them. A challenge to remind myself daily to live that way and show them.

    • Zoe

      Thank you for sharing this. I have experienced fear of ever having children at the prospect that they may not love and serve the Lord. It is something I need to prayerfully work on.

  • Emma Bjorback

    I’m catching up here, but I didn’t know that about sheep’s vision. I think it’s so amazing, how there is such a creature created that really reflects our human condition. Our hindsight is great, we can see where we have been and those next to us but what’s coming ahead we are blind. How often am I surprised with how my life or just day to day happens. They knew that you don’t keep sheep without a shepherd and so does God which is why he sent his Son, the good shepherd to lead us as we were wondering astray and lost

  • I’ve always appreciated the imagery of sheep following the Good Shepherd, but the detail you shared about sheep having amazing peripheral vision but poor vision right in front of them makes it even more incredible. We have to depend even more so on the voice of the Lord as his sheep. I’ll be the first one to admit that! Thanks for your reflection!

  • Christine Marie

    “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

    Interestingly enough if our delight is in the Lord, then the desire of our heart is Him, and He gives us more of Him.

  • His voice! I so relate to the vision thing. I look mostly at what others are doing around me and not directly at myself. And on the steps I am walking. God is leading me and I am following. So thankful for his consistency in leading me to make the next move. Lord if Matt is to be a realtor please open doors. I do see this as a great move for him… I do want to make sure you are in it and this is not just a selfish move but something you have ahead for us!

  • This writing makes me think of parenting – as I have heard in many parenting discussions / lessons – adequate and strong relationship lead to appropriate and successful discipline. Without the relationship – our kids recognizing we love them, enjoy time with them, and find joy in who they are and their value to us – our discipline and leadership decisions may seem more like orders or distant decisions. In the same way – our view of our relationship with God – the knowledge of His words and love for us – will change how distant and cold we see His actions in our lives !

    • Mary Joseph

      I really like this. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you Lord for these thoughts.

  • I so needed this today (this week, this month…)

  • Rachel Y.

    I have been struggling with a lot of life-change and health issues lately; sadly I have to admit that I have felt the same way about God sometimes. I’ve felt that God is Holy , His ways are perfect , I deserve nothing and I may get nothing but pain and suffering for the rest of my life . Destitute and resigned I tell myself the lie that God won’t bless me again or work everything out for my good . I forget that God is saying , “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future .”

    • Rachel Y.

      May the Holy Spirit stir in each of us today that God has called us each His beloved, and that He knows the plans He has for each of us.

  • I love this. Thank you for the thoughts, Claire.

  • We pray thee too for wanderers from the fold,oh bring them back good shepherd of the sheep

  • I love these thoughts on how He leads, with the gentleness and care of a Good Shepherd, as opposed to an ordering general. I’m convicted personally of how He leads by example, giving me the ultimate picture of laying his own life down, delaying his own deserved gratification, to make a way for this wayward sheep. Of course I want to follow Him into green pastures, but I often shrink back when He whispers for me to follow him along the humble path of service. Oh Good Shepherd, give me eyes to see that the path of laying myself down IS the good path…give me the joy of closeness with You and help me to follow You wholeheartedly.

  • Jennifer Wood

    It’s so awesome that this devotional came today. Our pastor just spoke on Psalm 23 and when I opened up my little girl’s story Bible today, it was also on Psalm 23. God was bringing to mind the beautiful Scripture from Isaiah 40:11, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” As a first time mom with a now 18 month old, and having just walked through a second miscarriage, I felt like the last part of that verse was so sweet for me. He is gently leading those with young. I am always feeling so much pressure to be a shepherd to others, in my family and my church, and while that is my gifting and calling in Christ, at this tender time, I am longing to just be a sheep. And here He promised to gently lead me. John 10 was just the icing on the cake of His beautiful, kind Shepherdhood this morning!

    • Kira Perdue

      “Longing to just be a sheep.” I was widowed April 2016, and now it is me, leading my 5 children, or trying to. Wading through my own journey of grief, trying to help my children through theirs, and all I want to do sometimes is quit. Thank you for posting Isaiah 40:11. It hit my heart with a much needed truth. He IS leading me, and I need to remember to rest in Him and follow His voice.

      • Candy

        When my then 4 year old son was in ICU, I felt at a loss for words to pray. God led me to realize that He already knew my prayer and I got such peace from just coming to Him and resting my head on His shoulder (in my mind). It really helped. I pray for you Kira and your children as you all walk thru this valley of shadow and loss. Please know that you do not walk alone, Jesus is leading you and will get you thru this. My heart aches for you and your loss.

      • Jennifer Wood

        My heart hurts for you, Kira, and you are in my prayers today!

  • So glad I remembered to read SRT today. I think Claire took the words right out of my mouth. I feel like everything in front of me is hazy. My husband and I lost our son at 19 weeks and found out I have a genetic blood clotting disorder that makes pregnancy pretty difficult. That was on top of a really stressful year full of twists and turns.The grief has been hard and different than any other grief I’ve experienced. Hazy is a perfect word to describe it. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that I don’t have to know what to do or what the future holds, but that Jesus is here and that’s more than enough. I’ve recently started reading a book called “With” by Skye Jethani, and it’s great! Highly recommend for anyone that wants to deepen their relationship with Christ and learn to live with Him.

    • Jennifer Wood

      Thank you for sharing. You are in my prayers this morning. I am walking a similar path right now and it’s so hard not to freak out trying to find my way. Such a good reminder that all we need to do is walk toward Him and know He’s here. We don’t have to be our own shepherds- He is such a good and faithful Shepherd.

    • Candy

      Wow thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Melissa. You made it so clear for me. I am walking an unfamiliar path right now and sometimes panic when I’m not sure where or what God wants me to do. “I don’t have to know what to do or what the future holds, but that Jesus is here and that’s more than enough” Definitely words to take to heart and I will. I am praying for you and your husband as you grieve. I think that this feels different because when we become pregnant we dream of our child’s whole life. You are not only grieving at his loss but also the loss of those dreams and now with your medical diagnosis also you are processing a lot. God has got this and you! Much love

  • Making SRT the start to my morning has made such a difference in my day! I love reading the scriptures, sitting quiet with God, and then reading SRT and everyone’s comments. We follow our Good Shepherd. :-)

  • Just thought- isn’t it so interesting and awesome that Jesus is called The good shepherd and Shepherds were the first to hear the news of his birth!!

  • How sweet this is. I’ve been going through several periods of discernment about a myriad of different things, and this is just insanely encouraging that the Lord isn’t going to bring me into anything that won’t bring growth or His goodness into my life.

  • Love this!! Thank You Lord!

  • I will forever follow my Shepherd! He is always there, providing for me, protecting me, and making sure I don’t stray too far from His path. My trust is in Him, and in Him alone!

  • I pray that God will remind me that he is my shepherd and that not only is he protecting me but does want good things for me.

  • I have specifically been praying for an answer in regards to expanding our family. I’m okay having another baby now, but I’m also content to wait, but I’ve been asking God for an obvious answer, I just want to be on the same page. Thank you for reminding me today that I don’t need to know, I just need to trust.

  • I have moved into a new role at work this week, one I was not prepared for and have no experience in. I will be doing a heavy amount of administrative work and right now I feel incredibly overwhelmed and already behind. I’ve found myself wondering if me being in this role is a mistake, but keep reminding myself to look to God for help and guidance. This morning reading everyone’s prayers, I am reminded that God is the ultimate administrator, He tends to everyone, guides everyone, has an answer for everyone’s prayers. And while I know that I will never be perfect in job, it is encouraging to know that I have God, with the perfect experience and wisdom, on my side helping me. I pray that I will feel Gods presence during the day today. And that I will pause for guidance from Him and be encouraged with peace. And reminded that my true goal here is to know Him.

  • rebecca7395

    There have been many times when I have felt that God didn’t care about the desires of my heart because they didn’t involve our church or witnessing to the lost. It made me bitter and hurt. My husband’s prayers about church matters seemed to be answered, yet my prayers for more children or a home fell on deaf ears. How timely this devotion is! May the Lord forgive me for feeling that way! He IS the Good Shepherd, and He cares about and for ALL of His children. Some prayers are just answered differently or take longer to see.

    • Veronica

      You are not the only one who has struggled with this. Such a great devotion today for those of us still waiting on him!

    • Emily

      I have always clung to Psalms 37:4 that God will give me the desires of my heart. I prayed for years for something and stepped out in faith this past fall and my prayers were answered! He does love us and wants to see us happy. His timing is always best though we may not understand it. We see a glimpse of things to come, but He can see the whole picture and how things fit into His plan. Don’t give up hope or give up praying! God is faithful!

  • 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, I see this truth everyday. So many people never hear His voice, they never get to know Him. My heart breaks for them. I am forever grateful that He is guiding my life. Even when I have strayed He, my good Shepherd, came and found me and brought me back to the flock again. Knowing how much He loves me helps me persevere in the times I don’t understand why He allows me to suffer so much. I can only trust the one who watches over me and guides me and loves me like no other.

  • Dear sisters, please pray. Our family is in crisis due to adoption. Made the agonizing decision to dissolve, but the new family is not following through. Contacting agency after agency. No help in sight. We are full of fear but trying to cling to faith. We humbly ask for intercession for God’s intervention, protection, provision, deliverance, healing.

  • This devotion was so timely for me. I’m 29 weeks pregnant and we’re decorating our son’s nursery with sheep because I want him to grow to know that God is a good shepherd. Pray with me as this baby finishes cooking and as he grows that he would come to know Jesus as his good shepherd.

    • SarahMay

      That is beautiful, Meg. Congratulations and prayers for a full-term, healthy pregnancy. And a baby who hears & knows His voice early in life.

    • Lynn

      ❤️

  • I loved the image about the sheep and their vision. How they have great peripheral vision, but could barely look ahead. At least I know that is so true about me. Always looking into the past, or looking sideways (comparing to others)… but with a very hazy sense of what lies ahead. Help me Jesus, focus my eyes on you, to follow you wherever you may lead me!

    • mixmemeg

      Yes! I loved that image too. In intentional design, we, as sheep, can’t see too far in front of us. In looking forward, all we can see is our Saviour-Shepherd. Oh that I would look forward to see Him; and not to the past or to the sides.

  • This is so good. We close on our new house today and we are entering a new adventure. Such a good reminder, I’m following my Shepherd who is leading me. I have to trust that he’s taking me in the right direction. If I get off the path He will come find me. For He knows the plans He has for me.

  • I am so thankful for the She Reads Truth community. I moved a lot growing up as well, following my dad who claimed to know Christ, but really has the heart of a pharisee. I am still working to overcome viewing God as a cold, power-obsessed general and really believe Him for who He is, a tender and loving Shepherd and a Good, Good Father. Although I will probably never meet you guys, I receive so much encouragement hearing how God is working in similar ways in your life. Thank you She Reads Truth for this ministry and to all you ladies for sharing your heart. God is using this community to reveal Himself to me in big ways.

    • Hilary

      Wouldn’t it be great if we could have one big meet up with all the SRT girls? I love this community as well!

  • churchmouse

    My parents, in an attempt to get me to behave as a child , would often tell me “You better be good. God’s always watching!” While it’s certainly true that I cannot hide from God, that phrase gave me a distorted view of God. I viewed Him as always out to get me, looking for me to mess up, to point His finger and say “Gotcha! Guilty!” It would be years before I recognized that my perception was wrong. God was FOR me and He even liked me! He created me with all my abilities and quirks. He knew where I would struggle and He would help me get through. Not once would He throw me under the bus or give up on me. I so love the visual of Him as the good shepherd, tenderly caring for His unruly flock. I love that I am protected and guided by one Who loves me so much. I am the best me when I stay in His pasture. A safe and ever satisfying pasture.

  • Thanks Claire! I am an Army brat too and I often fall into that same perspective of God. I had never thought about how my childhood affects the way I see God’s guidance of my life. I am about to graduate college and I tend to have a pessimistic view of how God will lead my future. I think, “He’s going to make me be single so I will glorify him by being lonely. He’ll give me a job I will hate because it’s where my light will shine the brightest. Or He will make me be poor so I’ll have to rely on Him more. So I shouldn’t even try to make plans, because He will make all of my plans will fall through.” But God is not holding out on me. He loves me and wants to bless me. Although I will face difficult circumstaces at times, there is no place better than in the will of God. And it’s okay to make plans as long as I allow God to shape them and I don’t hold onto them too tightly. He leads us like a shepherd, and His plans are good!

    • Tochi Heredia

      Wow, Julia. Your words made me realize I do that too. I sometimes think “well, he’s blessed me a lot in the past, I’m sure he’ll put me though trials and withhold things from me in the future.”
      Thanks be to God that he is the GOOD Shepherd and lovingly tends for his flock!

  • Kristine L

    The Good Shepherd has always been one of my favorite images of Jesus. What a relief to know someone else has the plan, and it’s a good plan, a plan that brings hope and a future, and I just need to follow His voice. Now, hearing His voice and knowing I’m in line with the plan are trickier sometimes. Still, what a comfort it is to me to know He watches over me.

  • This has brought to the surface some things I didn’t know were there… I have felt for several years that that is exactly how God is ; a cold general with a mission and his troops are to fall in line. I have always felt that the whole point of all of this was to die to self and be more like Christ. And dying to self meant forgetting my hopes and dreams and needs and wants. I have always felt that God is focused on the end, the eternal goal not the here and now, and especially not me and my life. As long as I am falling in line,l with the troops that’s the goal, right? I have a really hard time believing that He is at all concerned with the ins and outs of my everyday life. Why would He? I know He loves us, but it has always felt like more of a distant, unaffectionate love that I have to believe is true only because I’m told it is, not because I feel it in my heart.

    • Jenna

      Tracy,
      God does what us to die to our selves and take up our cross and follow Him but that does not mean He doesn’t love us and care about us completely. He does care about our hopes, dreams and desires and wants to hear about them. However, in Jeremiah 29:11 it says that God knows the plans He has for us and they are not to harm us but prosper us. He already has a wonderful plan for us and He will change our desires into His if we follow Him. In Isaiah 55:9, it says God’s ways are higher than our own. He knows exactly what we need before we do. God wants to have a relationship with us, a loving none not a cold distant one. I hope this makes sense and I’ll be praying that you truly feel His love!

    • Lauren

      Tracy,
      I’ve been struggling with how God could love me so much recently too but He’s been opening my eyes and heart lately though. I hope you’ll read Psalm 139. It is such a clear and intimate picture of how much God really does care about every tiny detail of our lives and how much He loves us. I’ll be praying the same prayer I’ve been praying for myself – that God would open your eyes and awaken your heart to how much He truly loves you. Blessings

    • Jess

      I think God gives us some of these hopes and dreams…He’s given us unique giftings and passions and I think when we look at what we hope and dream for, our God given gifts and passions are in there. Share those dreams with God and He will turn them into more than you can imagine.

    • Cecelia

      Tracy, I think choosing to believe something despite FEELING it is the first step. There are some things I have to do that for. The bible tells us that God gives us the desires of our hearts. I don’t believe he wants an army of exact replicas. He gave us our individual interests and desires because we are to use them to glorify him. And, no, not all my dreams come true, yes, I go through things that feel so indescribably hard, but through it all, I choose to believe that God is a good, good father. That he gives me the desires of my heart. That he loves me as his child. Because that’s the God of the bible I read. It’s his KINDNESS. Praying that you have an encounter with a personal God who loves you and cares beyond any human about the things that matter to you because he does, he loves you!

  • Great devotion today. God loves us so much that he makes it His business to lead, guide and care for us.❤

  • Claire, my life was different to yours in so many ways….
    I would follow my Dad through choice, I would often tell him I was going with him, wherever it was he was going… he was the love of my life, when I was younger and being with him was the best to me..He had a gentle way about him, a kindness in his words, a repimand, though a reprimand, would not hurt so much as correct, and his love for us, my brother and I, was amazing…..but, here’s the thing, this great man I was blessed to call Daddy, was but a man.. and though he guided us, loved us, assured us, gave us to the best of his ability…
    He was my Daddy. My earthly father. And I praise and thank God for him, always..

    He was not The Good Shepherd…

    The direction and assurance I seek—that each of us need—are found solely in Jesus, the Shepherd-God….I love this, and what truth, Claire, thank you.

    This song is playing in my head…https://youtu.be/ZqN9aS2S3L0 I love this version, but this one, is my favourite….
    Enjoy…

    https://youtu.be/ghHE_kVWXxM

    Every blessing for a peace filled and God blessed weekend, Sisters…xxx

  • so thankful for todays study. Even when feel alone, lost and far from God his love never changes. He is still faithful and there. He will still guide us and care for us. He will still hear my prayer and help bring his plan into completion!

  • Eunice Alasa

    You hit the nail on the head! I often think that since i am on earth to serve God’s purpose, then ‘I’ don’t matter. My dreams and desires should be surrendered in exchange for God alone. That perspective even though it contains truth often gives me a messed up view about God and his nature. When things are going great, I tend not to be happy for too long because I get scared that God is going to come take away my joy soon and when things are bad, they are bad…. There might be various reasons why I have this perspective, but I do know that it is not from God and it is a perverted view of his true nature. I often have to remind myself that God is a good good father (love that song) who is not out to get me or punish me and that he loves me more than my mind can fully comprehend or understand.

    • Dana

      Amen!!

    • cj8of8

      I love your thoughts and can relate to the When things are going great… Then I realize that God is joy. The Joy of the Lord is my strength.. my pursuit of Him causes that joy… Jesus endured the cross for the Joy set before him. You! Me! All of us! He is in you dear sister. .. He reminds you as you remind your self. Only one can try to steal and take away what has been freely given by our Creator. Our battles are already won. Praise God!

Further Reading...