Thus says the Lord, God, “As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for my sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.”

Ezekiel 34: 12

 

God knows all about the storms that rage in this world. He is aware of the many ways that the perfect climate of His creation has been made unstable by the fracture of sin. This damage and brokenness brings about storms that are often sudden in their coming and violent in their impact. Sheep, being a rather skittish and fearful lot, can tend to run and to scatter when the wind, rain, and lightning strike. Even sheep that are very well cared for and tended can be driven off from the safety of the shepherd’s chosen path and pasture. It is the response of the shepherd in these times that matters.

 

Christ is a shepherd who never losses heart. He goes wherever He is required to go, and He looks in every possible craggy nook and each deep valley until He finds all of His sheep. We may take short trips away from His presence; sometimes, we sheep run far away and seek out the darkest caves that we can find in order to become separate from the Lord’s sight. It doesn’t matter to Him. Christ has already stepped into the depths of human bondage. He has already charted out all of the paths to separation and isolation that we humans might discover. Even when we have run until there is no breath left in our lungs, the leather is worn off of the bottoms of our shoes, and we have no idea of how far we have come or of where we are, He still sees us and He never stops loving and caring for us. This is the shepherd that we have in Christ.

 

Then the Lord does anything and everything that He needs to do to bring us back into the safety and the provision of His flock. With God this is not an issue of control, for He gave that away when He created us with the ability to make choices. With Him it is not a matter of power or might, for Christ chose to go the way of the humble lamb of sacrifice in order to save all of us from the death of sin. This shepherd comes to us with what all good tenders of sheep bring; that is, He comes to us out of a love that is greater than all of our fear, a desire to provide for us that outweighs our self-centered independence, and a capacity to provide protection that overcomes this world’s crumbling structures. Even in the dark nights and deep valleys there will always be the voice of the true shepherd as He calls to all who are lost and alone, “Come home.”

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As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Ezekiel 34: 12

 

The roads and highways of this world are a mess, and air travel seems less certain than ever. Most people end at least some of our days in places that we didn’t intend when we developed our plans for life. Yet, after encountering numerous detours, traffic jams, and washed out bridges, we become disconnected from the life that we were after. The land where we are located is foreign, and many of the people who surround us speak a language that we don’t really understand. Truly the clouds of our own decisions are obscuring the horizon, and the darkness that covers the heart is thickly oppressive.

 

Sometimes this state is naturally short lived and becomes resolved when the light of truth reaches us. At other times and for some people it persists and becomes what is normal. This foreign land to which we have traveled replaces the one that God intended for each of His people as it is then that person’s place of dwelling. This is a disturbing and unsettling place to be, for the food, language, and customs of this land are worldly and discordant with who we are as children of God. Although this pasture land is not the one that God has designated as His source of good food for His sheep, He never hesitates in going there to seek out His own. He is fearless and bold, and His love for each of His people is endless.

 

When we find ourselves tasting the strange food and drink of this place that is at the end of one of these detours from God’s path through life, we can stop in mid bite and know that Christ is there to guide us out of that dark place and into the safety of His light. There is no road too twisted for the Lord to be unable to follow, and no bridge is too broken for Him to repair. Christ has been to every desperate and deadly corner of this world, and He truly desires to leave no one behind there. When we are lost, we can always turn to God, and He will respond. His Word is everywhere, and it speaks truth to all situations. God’s people surround us, and they will come to our rescue with the boldness of Christ as their strength. As we seek the Lord, He will rescue.