Week 3 Day 1: Knowing and Being Known
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
Knowing and Being Known
Who we are, as beautiful as we are, we’re also a bit of a mess, defenseless, finding life overwhelming, which God knows and God loves.
-Br. Curtis Almquist
Our focus this week is inspired by John chapter one, verse 18, where we remember the closeness that Jesus had with God, whom he calls “Father.” And to look where this relationship, the intimacy of this relationship, informs the same kind of relationship that Jesus invites of us. The English word ‘intimacy’ comes from the Latin intimus, which means “closeness.” It’s a kind of relationship where barriers can be dropped – and you hopefully will have the experience of this with someone (in the) present, and hopefully (in the) past, who is a safe presence with whom you can be uncollected, with whom you do not have to be scripted to make a perfect presentation, just to show your strong side. But rather someone with whom you can be very transparent.
I’m sometimes listening to someone and they’ll say, “Oh I’m just rambling,” or “I don’t know what that had to do with this.” But I, as a listener being invited into a very open and often vulnerable conversation, clearly see how all of this belongs together. So we’ll be talking about intimacy: What is it that invites intimacy with other people and with God, and what is it that gets in the way of intimacy, of having a close and trusting relationship with other people, which will also inform how we relate to God?
One of the greatest fears in life for many people is that they might be known, that they be exposed, that they be “outed,” that the truth get out. One of the greatest fears in life. One of the greatest needs in life is to be known, to be “outed,” for the authentic me to come forth, to be known and accepted. Greatest fears, greatest needs. With this wonderful metaphor that we hear Jesus take on in John’s gospel that he is the Good Shepherd – which, of course, means that we are sheep.
Now there’s a very tender meaning behind beautiful sheep but it’s also a rather pathetic metaphor. Have you been around sheep before? I’ve spent an amount of time with sheep and shepherds. Sheep are clueless. What we read in Psalm 23 about sheep needing to be led to green pastures is so, because they can’t find food themselves. And unless they are moved along they will eat a green pasture down to the dirt and it will be dead. They can’t find water, they have to be led to water. And they’ll only drink still water – very particular needs about water. Sheep get lost all the time and they need to be defended. They’re virtually defenseless and so shepherds have a rod and a staff to both rescue but also to fend off the predators. Sheep are also filthy, absolutely filthy.
So there’s this kind of tender image of sheep, which is quite true. There’s also a pathetic truth about sheep. They are so abjectly in need. And I think it’s not insignificant that Jesus takes on this metaphor of being the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep – and we are his sheep. Who we are, as beautiful as we are, we’re also a bit of a mess, defenseless, finding life overwhelming, which God knows and God loves. How is it that you find yourself a beautiful sheep? What about sheep do you find attractive, tender, inviting? And if you are a sheep certainly the way shepherds understand sheep, how is it that you’re in such abject need, prone to get lost, needing to be defended, and why?
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
Being known by God as his sheep also means that we sheep know our master’s voice. We do not respond to a stranger (wolf in sheep’s clothing). I asked a sheep farmer once about this verse, do sheep really know the shepherd’s voice, and he said yes. If it stranger were to call them, they wouldn’t respond. So Jesus, in his inimitable way, is using a well known “word” picture that everyone around him would have known. Point made. And the way to learn to recognise our master’s voice is to spend time with the master, growing into an intimate relationship in stillness and conversational prayer.
Those who suffer or who have suffered from addictive diseases can really “get” what Curtis Almquist is talking about. Addiction gets you at the cellular level. We feel like sheep, filthy, hopeless, helpless. Only a shepherd who is also a sheep (Angus Dei) can get to us at the cellular level and bring love and healing. Then we have discovered the Incarnation, the truth of the Gospel.
Wow! Brother Curtis hit the nail on the head! Each time I do something good and far beyond my comprehension in the face of abject meanness and cruelty, I find myself at life’s next turn doing something absolutely lost beyond belief. It allows me to come to Jesus who knows and sees all and ask for mercy and to be truly grateful for His unconditional ❤️. This reflection is priceless. Right on the money! Thanks
When I visited Ireland in 2003, I was amazed by many sights and people, but nothing touched my soul like the sheep, especially one sheep in a parking lot.
It was raining, of course. I don’t know where the herd was, but this sheep, spray painted green – as all Irish sheep are marked with a color to identify their group – was huddled between two parked cars.
Readily, it came to me and accepted scratches and pets through its thick wool. As I (tried to) walked away, the sheep followed.
How did I leave?
The one thing I learned living in Jesus movement commune years ago that I forget sometimes is that like we have this need to belong and it is only Christ do we find it met. Community is not just working together toward a common goal but a realization we are all broken and dirty and the only way to make it work is relying on Christ to change us from within. The sheep metaphor is a good one because they wonder, and get lost until the shepherd finds them. I have and sometimes continue to wander of the path into my own depression and darkness sometimes to my own detriment. Somehow Christ always finds me through the shepherds around me. At times he has used me in my brokenness as a shepherd to bring other lost sheep home. His love sustains me.
There is an overwhelming amount of things to think about and to respond to in this message. Two of the things that hit me were as follows. 1 – It shows an in-depth reason why followers of Christ are referred to as sheep. We do get lost often and it’s difficult to find our way with the temptations, obstacles and distractions set before us. I relate well with Peter who proclaims his love of Jesus and who will stand by him no matter what and then denies him 3 times before the rooster crows. We need Jesus to lead us so we act in more godly ways; he is our model for our life actions and choices. Jesus loves us unconditionally, when we are lost and when we are found. 2- I found it interesting to learn that sheep cannot find water. That helps me to realize why I am always thirsty for living water. I thirst in my need of renewal through God’s word and way.
i I nvite intimacy with others and God
N ever forgetting to listen but to be
I am in need of you, dear Lord
M ake me
A uthentic to be known and accepted
To have a C loseness and trusting relationships
Y ou are the Good Shepard and know my every need.
I have always embraced this metaphor of Jesus as The Good Shepherd because the image reminds me how dependent I am on Him. Over the years, I have experienced that my faith in Him grows when I completely trust Him. I think it is comforting for me to know that I have a Guide in life. My only desire is to listen and obey Jesus. In this way, I can become more intimate with Him. I enjoy intimacy with others because then I develop close friendships. I like being open and honest. I strive for authenticity with God and others. Sometimes, I fail at this, but then, I confess my weakness because of being worried about image. So, I run back to my Shepherd as a lost sheep, and He picks me up in His loving arms to show me mercy and grace which I do not deserve. God invites us into the most intimate relationship with Him. He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. Why? Because He loves us. It is as simple and as complex as that. I am glad that Jesus knows me. I do not mind being His lost sheep.
What I love and always will do is the intimacy in being ‘known’ but ‘known’ in the sense of being fully accepted and loved. I have no fear of being rejected or judged or any of those things but just being loved like from a doting mother, father or dear friends – people who you’re drawn to and it’s reciprocated – nothing better in life. I find peace, joy, strength, fulfilment…. the list goes on. I just wish there were more of those relationships around me.
I’m not surprised at being seen as a sheep – I’m happy to be seen not understanding or knowing about TONNES of stuff in life… God created me to be this way and will change me when He’s good and ready. I don’t need to be any different. I need to know my Shepherd’s voice – enjoy being who I am. Follow Him as much as I am able. There’s the challenge too!!!
I am so grateful to finally understand about sheep. I never really liked being compared to a sheep, but now I realize that it it the best analogy for we humans.
The image of Jesus and Shepherd, and me as a sheep is so tender and loving. When Ruth West’s husband (described below) discovered the lifeless lamb, “He grabbed it up in his arms, rushed to the house with it, all the time yelling instructions to me. I drew up a tub of lukewarm water, and we both dipped the baby under water for a few seconds. It came up with a weak “Ba-a-a!”” What a fabulous image of Jesus, and his love and concern for each of us. Just as we are so touched with compassion for a helpless baby animal, that is how Jesus feels about each of us. As we are so much more capable/intelligent/wise than the helpless beings we attempt to help, Jesus is that much more capable/intelligent/wise than us. I find that a very reassuring picture.
Sheep don’t have to be filthy, and neither do we..
I really enjoyed the manner that Brother Almquist had when he delivered today’s message. I think it is sometimes fine for God’s sheep to need to be shepherded. It is then a mutually beneficial act between two beings. I can be led and also help to lead others. Jesus holding the lamb in a stained glass window in our church makes me feel safe.
It is so easy to become distracted in this busy world and lose our way, even temporarily, on the journey. I am like a sheep literally and metaphorically in terms of needing guidance, as I have a poor sense of direction and easily get lost. I am a strong person; I know what needs to be done and I am often chosen to be a leader, because of my organizational and communication skills. But I, too, am vulnerable, and sometimes need to be led and protected, I need a shepherd. I project strength and of having it all together, so people often come to me and do not see when I am in need of help or a hug.
My husband is mentally ill. If I am not the shepherd then my family will fall apart. God has blessed me but also asked much of me. I cannot allow the true me out because there is no place in my life for that person. I must be strong, organized and keep it together even when I am falling part inside. Caregivers are the forgotten souls. My faith is strong and necessary as it is all that keeps me going. I often think God must get tired of me asking for strength and I wonder at times if He really knows that I am on the brink. There is only so much one person can handle, I may be about to fall. I just ask that God picks me up, dusts me off and sets me on my path again
Heather, I hear your pain and the heaviness of your burden. I took care of my mother, who was bi-polar, since I was a young child. This takes an enormous mental, physical and spiritual toll, especially when you are dealing with the unpredictability of the illness (and for me, in someone who was supposed to care for and protect me). Caregivers must make space for themselves. Think of the example of Jesus who took time away from the crowds to be, to pray, to recover and restore. He took care of himself so that he could care for others. I invite you to consider, as I did, how you can make space for yourself, time to be and recharge. You may need help in exploring this, either from a spiritual advisor, pastoral counselor or the facilities or clinics that treat your husband, as they may have support groups for family members, both adults and children. If you are in the US, check out nami.org. I know about needing to be the responsible one and create an image of having it all together while inside you are held (barely) by scotch tape. It is no accident that I do fundraising and public relations for non profit organizations and have crafted my image. It is a heavy burden to carry and one that saps your energy. It is also no accident that I try to eliminate chaos in my life by being super organized. Another time and energy suck. You are in my prayers. Peace +
I have been a caregiver and have felt myself on the precipice . I prayed a lot, but I needed and got a lot of help . One of the problems I had was seeing and defying myself as “caregiver”. That may be what I do, but it’s not who I am. I had to understand and accept my limits. I had to surrender a lot. I pray for you.
I sent this on to friends with whom I meet for centering prayer. They loved the story of the sheep, as did I. It’s always easier for me to laugh at myself and then accept who I am – a very needy sheep.
Caregivers are the forgotten souls ….God bless you and keep you his sheep safe, protected and fed…fed with His love, grace, and protection.
How is it that you find yourself a beautiful sheep?
I read an allegorical novel “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, by English author Hannah Hurnard, about wild sheep in mountains, who are very skillful & adept at climbing in very precarious terrain, & very resilient living in harsh environments.
It is the story of a young woman named Much Afraid, & her journey away from her Fearing Family & into the High Places of the Shepherd, guided by her two companions Sorrow & Suffering.
The book takes its title from Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength, & he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, & he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
This has special significance to me with my challenges with ostio arthritis & eventual need to get knee replacements. I am pleased to say 2 years after completed surgery (5 surgeries throughout my life time) I am becoming more sure footed & mobile & confident about venturing into new territory & exploring.
What about sheep do you find attractive, tender, inviting?
I deeply respect rocky mountain sheep & am in awe with the majestic appearance of rams. Rams are not docile at all! & are very aggressive when rutting … hence the origins of “butting heads”. I am amazed they don’t suffer from concussion!! & brain damage!!. Maybe there is a lesson in that.
I understand the horns are sacred in many herding, hunting & gathering ancient cultures used to call communities into sacred assemblies & ritual. The Shofa is a horn & a musical instrument used for religious purposes in Semite ancient cultures.
I have seen documentaries about rocky mountain sheep. The lambs learn very quickly how to maneuver over precarious terrain almost from the day they are born. Rocky mountain sheep go to remote high places where carnivorous predators are unable to climb. The lambs are vulnerable to big predator birds, raptors-eagles. I viewed “The Eagle Huntress”, about the steppes of Mongolia in a documentary with panoramic scenes. Sheep are herded by nomadic Mongolians. It was exhilarating.
And if you are a sheep certainly the way shepherds understand sheep, how is it that you’re in such abject need, prone to get lost, needing to be defended, & why?
I am mindful of the book, “Good Goats: Healing Our Image of God”, by Dennis Linn which presented a very healthy spirituality. Goats are good too! as well as Sheep. It was very helpful in expanding my appreciation of the unconditional loving depths of Agape Love I understand is personified in the imagery of the Good Shepherd. I also appreciate some references of Jesus whipping the money changers in the Temple…an image of the Good Shepherd at once tender with his lambs & ferocious with predators violating holy ground & the sacred. I find that comforting & reassuring.
I love that fact that Jesus knows me and still loves me with all my little or large foibles. Knowing how much love my shepherd has for me, cares for me and guides me in all my travels of life fills my heart with overflowing wonder and love in return.
Lambs are born gentle and innocent. They need and want guidance to feel safe and lived. We all want that – the guidance that brings us home to the love that was always there inside our hearts, often unseen and unrecognizable, but always there…
Although I have been a Christian for 53 years will I ever stop being a sheep? I can relate so very much to Br Almquists’ comments – they are so true. Will I ever grow up?
My wife and watched the 2013 production of “The Gospel of John” movie, starring Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus last night and the parable of the Good Shepard was wondrously performed in a very thoughtful and imaginative way. I would definitely recommend seeing the movie. As much as we may hate to admit we need help and don’t wish to be considered “sheep” because of the secular culture viewing it as a negative, we must accept that without Jesus we can do nothing. He is the vine and we are the branches and God is the gardener. I can now be at ease knowing that the Lord is my Shepard and I need not want.
Sorry, I quoted the wrong year for the Movie “The Gospel of John”. I meant the 2003 production not 2013.
I am currently traveling in New Zealand. Sheep are grazing everywhere. Today returning from our Greenstone hike on the South Island, there was a herd of freshly sheared sheep that took flight upon our approach. They were unable to discern that if they veered to the right or left they would be safe, but instead ran in front of our slowly moving vehicle. Finally they found a familiar path away from the road. Aren’t we like that too? We persist in our stupid (mostly small) sins until finally we are lost and forced to stop. Isn’t that when our Shepherd appears?
O Lord Jesus, so many things, numerous distractions seem to come between us, to cut off the necessary communication and flow of conversation that should exist between us. Objects and borders that prevent me from feeling a true sense of union and a complete understanding and knowledge of you and our Father in heaven. I have often erected my own defenses and tried to block you out – forgive me. I often feel pushed and pulled by the negative forces of the world, dragged in different directions away from you.
Jesus, most of my life I attempted to run away from you – yet I was trying to escape my own self, and my fear and inability to confront and deal with the reality before me. I have truly wasted my time, energy and imagination in pursuing a dream world, an alternative existence outside of what you intended for me.
Lord, I know now that whatever situation I found myself in, whatever situation I was in, whatever I faced – that you were there with me. You filled every scenario, you were present in all dimensions, challenging and urging me on to the real goal of life, preventing me from making serious errors or mistakes, or inspiring me to follow through… guiding and conditioning me for your purpose and will toward a greater purpose. My innate stubbornness was the only reason I perceived your presence as a struggle. So, in the end, exhaustion brought me to the necessary knowledge that I could run no more – there was nowhere that I could hide or escape you, knowing that wherever I went – you were there waiting. The only sensible thing to do was to surrender to your will. I accepted and embraced your omnipresent and omnipotent love for me, in life. Yes, you know Lord, that there was nothing else I could do. Nowhere I could possibly go. I had no escape routes, even my imagination had limits.
Lord, it seems that you purposefully entangled me in a trap that you had set, a snare of love, but one in which I entered willingly, knowing your superiority, and ultimately possessing the desire to die in your embrace as the ultimate reality, and live eternally with you.
I offer a prayer on behalf of all those at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Denver.
I pray for those who are lost in the world – waiting to be discovered by the Lord and brought back home.
Pax – David
The analogy of Jesus as shepherd and us as sheep is interesting, but I find it troubling, because sheep are raised for slaughter. Even sheep used for wool production are eventually slaughtered. My childhood peers and I were raised on Sunday School images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, carrying a lamb across his shoulders; but never addressing why sheep were raised. Perhaps because of the Disney influence, we thought of all those sheep as big pets. Nobody told us they were carefully tended so that they could end up on a dinner plate. Now, as an adult with some first-hand experience raising farm animals, I wonder if Jesus’s original audience had a very different understanding of references to shepherds and sheep in his parables, or in earlier Hebrew scripture. I believe we can see in Isaiah’s foreshadowing – “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter” – and in NT references to Jesus as the “lamb of God,” a more complete picture of what it means to be “. . . his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” I believe we are shepherded for a purpose and that the Good Shepherd is more interested that we should be useful than comfortable. Otherwise, how can we reconcile our understanding of Jesus as Good Shepherd with thousands of years of Christian martyrdom.
Karen what a great insight, thanks, Bryan ” I believe we are shepherded for a purpose and that the Good Shepherd is more interested that we should be useful than comfortable. Otherwise, how can we reconcile our understanding of Jesus as Good Shepherd with thousands of years of Christian martyrdom.”
Sheep need each other, as humans need each other.
But individually or in a flock, we are nothing without God’s Guidance.
I do not mind comparing myself with sheep because they are tame and not hurtful.
I don’t know a lot about sheep, but the image of Jesus as our Shepherd has always been beautiful to me.
Thank you, Br. Curtis , for this good lesson.
My husband and I had about thirty sheep when we lived on an acreage in southern Oklahoma many years ago. That was a good experience, but with some challenges. One February one of the ewes had her lamb during an icy cold spell. My husband was checking on her every day. One morning he discovered that she had had the lamb during the night, and it lay lifeless. He grabbed it up in his arms, rushed to the house with it, all the time yelling instructions to me. I drew up a tub of lukewarm water, and we both dipped the baby under water for a few seconds. It came up with a weak “Ba-a-a!”
We worked with it for awhile and kept it warm. The challenge came when he returned it to the mother. She, apparently, smelled our scent on it, and would not accept it. We had a dependent little
lamb on our hands! We bottle fed that one, until, finally, it was able to follow the mother and she took it. I know there is a spiritual lesson in my story, but, I am not able to tell you what it is. I’ll leave that to the readers. I loved seeing the many herds of sheep in the U K when we traveled lots. Saw so many in Ireland.
The 23rd Psalm has been posted on my refrigerator for many years. I love my Shepherd, and I know He loves me.
Having just come back from visiting my elderly mother in Ireland, and wanting to see newborn lambs before I left. It was awesome. I’ve always found sheep to be gentle and curious, certainly not clueless. The analogy here for me is that, if we follow Jesus and allow Him to guide us we won’t be lost. It’s when we think we know or have all the answers and live by our own thoughts we become clueless. I try to see the good in everyone and not gossip but lately with family its been very difficult. I don’t agree with their thinking about a situation with a family member, and because I don’t participate in the gossip I’ve been cut off by some members. I’m trying to be a good person and it can be very lonely sometimes walking with Jesus, but I would not have it any other way. He is my Shepard!!!
Yes, I both want to be known and I fear being known. I want to tell people how they should know me. I want intimacy on my terms.
But this isn’t how it is with God. I have fewer filters. I am more honest and intimate with God. Jesus is my closest friend; I allow myself to be vulnerable. When I return from being out and about with people, I feel at peace to be alone with God.
Thank you Brother Curtis for your wonderful and authentic nature. I connected completely with your words. Just wanted to replay it. So refreshing and relatable. Greatest fear, greatest need! And what is it that gets in the way of intimacy with our Lord. You given me so much to think and pray about.
I give thanks that God has chosen me , a somewhat pathetic specimen, and allows me to walk with him, and talk with him, and be guided by him……
I have two experiences with sheep. My elementary school was in a farming community. The farm next to the school was the only farm with sheep. They were exotic animals, kept to themselves, afraid of the kids, seen only in the distance. Never saw one up close. They were strange.
The second experience was in Yorkshire U K. Haworth, on the moors, Bronte Country. On a hike to Top Withens (Wuthering Heights). A flock of sheep grazed near where I ate my sandwich. The ram approached boldly, close, real close, wanted to be fed? sandwich? Would not be shooshed away. I didnt like the looks of him. I moved.
This was anything but vulnerable. Not a typical sheep story and I cant say anything I experienced was beautiful, attractive, tender or inviting. I hate to say it but this is probably how Christ sees all of us. All. Even the best of us.
And he loves us in spite of how we are. Enough to lay down his life for us. It is The Great Mystery.
I loved this article and particularly valued the information about sheep. The comments are rich as well.
There are definitely days l feel like s sheep, dirty. defenseless and wandering around! But sheep fo give me the feeling of Peace. I am a seniour with moderate dementia and psalm 23 gives me much comfort. I absolutely loved your analogy. Blessings
I think the comment about sheep being filthy…is extremely harsh. Jesus was also metaphorically a sheep..part of the flock..pigs on the other hand are extremely clean in their defecating habits..perhaps scripture should consider Jesus swine .
This is such a wonderful insight! Our fears and our needs are exactly the same: to be known. We fear that to be known is to be judged. We need to be known to be accepted. It comes down to vulnerability. It is safe to be vulnerable with Jesus as His love for us is unbending. It is risky to be vulnerable with others as they may choose to harm us and therefore the fear.
I think the comment about sheep being filthy…is extremely harsh. Jesus was also metaphorically a sheep..part of the flock..pigs on the other hand are extremely clean in their defecating habits..perhaps scripture should consider Jesus swine .
I once bought a raw fleece, and it was indeed, very dirty and full of burrs and plant debris. Wool is dense, curly, and rich in lanolin, which is very sticky, and collects dirt and dust very efficiently. Trying to clean my fleece gave me an appreciation for the people who still clean, card, spin and weave wool by hand. It’s a real chore.
Dear Brother Curtis, I, too, have spent much time with sheep and shepherds. I would argue with you that sheep are ‘clueless’. Having observed them very closely for many years I believe they have much more intelligence than man allows them. Of course they will eat until the grass is all gone because in our world man controls them in every way, particularly moving them to fresh pastures when he thinks they are ready.
What I have always loved about sheep is that they are peaceful animals! They do NOT kill, hurt, or maim other animals to get meat–they are NOT carnivores. When I see a field of sheep grazing, I love the feeling of deep peace I get, and it immediately reminds me of OUR Shepherd!!!
I love the parable of the Shepherd (God/Jesus)) who goes and finds that one lost sheep and rejoices over that one more than the ones who did not stray… as sheep have the innate tendancy to flock. That lost sheep could have been distracted, or weak and sick, or ran as it was being chased…. the story is still all about the shepherd who goes out and brings it back to safety and rejoices over it. Just when I think my spiritual life is all about me and my reactions and my feelings and my needs …I am pursued and drawn back into the arms of the Shepherd. It is all about the Shepherd as His love for us is first and foremost…and then we are rejoiced over and loved and our needs met. How wonderful!
Lord, give me the courage to know when I am feeling “absolutely filthy” and in that moment help me to know that you love me just as I am.
Thanks Brother Curtis for elaborating so deeply on the metaphor of the shepherd and His sheep. I had not realised the full scope and richness of it . I will ow keep it central to my meditations and andunderstanding of scripture. Interestingly , most of us in this western culture do not experience or witness shepherding and goatherding which were so familar to the Middle East of Jesus’ time; and yet the metaphor is still vibrant and easily grasped.
Just one thought though. Sheep as they were then and now are the product of man exercising his dominance and will over a wild animal (the mouflon), to the capitalise on certain traits like high fecundity and encourage docility and dependence. This to the extent that man now has to step into a natural process of Nature , the predator/prey relationship, to defend the animal for his own purposes of clothing and food. This interference has gone on with many animals and plants as we evolved away from being scavangers and hunter/gathers. Have we gone too far; have we misused our abilty to genetically engineer; are we in the process of destroying God’s “garden” and its natural order ? Are we wolves in sheep’s clothing? Food, ironically, for thought!
I had a typo in my comment. I wrote, “Society paints a negative association with people being called sheep, in fact they have a word for it today, “sheeple.” I personally do not like being referred to as a sheep because I like to think I need to be led or managed – and I know this is my pride talking.
I meant to write I personally do not like being referred to as a sheep because I like to think I do not need to be led or managed – and I know this is my pride talking.
Society paints a negative association with people being called sheep, in fact they have a word for it today, “sheeple.” I personally do not like being referred to as a sheep because I like to think I need to be led or managed – and I know this is my pride talking. I prefer to think of Jesus as my ultimate mentor and coach – a wise, experienced friend – who is always there to provide guidance, advice, and good examples for me to follow so that I can be the person He knows that I can be. It was with His guidance that I learned as a child how to find food, shelter, water – the necessities of life. With that knowledge behind me, I was able to to listen to more of His advice. There were times when I struggled, lost my way, and lost my faith, but he waited patiently for me to be willing to listen again. I don’t believe that without God we do nothing, but rather, without God, we will never reach our full potential, we will not flourish as humans, … in fact, we do worse than nothing because without God, we harm ourselves and others with our ignorance and inability to listen and learn.
I agree with most of your comments Renae, especially the one about Gods guidance helping us learn skills as a schild. However it is true that without God we are nothing, without God we (humans) would not have been so wonderfully designed and made…..we have God given traits that enable us to live wonderful lives, if we don’t choose to accept Gods invitation to walk with him, those lives are empty and bleak.
I see what you mean, if by your definition, “nothing” means never being created. He created us and loves us, and knows our great potential – and he gave us free will to listen to him and reach that potential or not. If the only definition of nothing is nonexistence, then you are spot on. My definition of nothing goes beyond nonexistence, it also means not being of value… we can still exist and be something, but without God, we will not be the person He planned for us to be. Without God, we will not flourish, but we will be something – just not what God intended.
Thank you, Brother Curtis for the reminder that we both fear & need to be understood, transparent, & in intimate relationship with God, who knows & loves us better than we ourselves do. A beautiful reminder that we, like sheep, have often gone astray & need to be prodded back into line for our own health, nourishment & well-being.
These morning meditations are a joy & a gift. Thank you!
I was raised by loving parents but in a home where sarcasm and a biting comment were often a parenting tool used too freely. So, I built that shell. Don’t show my real self and never take on something that I might fail at. In relationships I took those lessons, and never let anyone all the way in. What if I failed them? What if I embarrassed myself and they told others? Its only in my professional life that I managed to break that pattern because of strong and wise mentors. This analogy to the sheep and the shepherd is a wonderful one for me, It opens my heart as this entire series has to positive growth in the Lord.
Lead me Lord. In my retched brokenness.
“Lord, . . . I thank you because I am marvelously made.” (Psalm 139, BCP) I was reminded of this verse, reading Brother Curtis’ meditation. He spoke of us as being beautiful. He observed that: “Who we are, as beautiful as we are, we’re also a bit defenseless, finding life overwhelming”. Despite being marvelously made and beautiful, we are basically and often overwhelmed, in abject need, prone to get lost, needing to be defended. God does know that, knows us, His sheep, and still loves us. Sheep may be dumb, clueless, but they do have the good sense to let themselves be tended, guided. One hopes that we have the good sense to let ourselves be tended and be guided by God’s grace. I thank Brother Curtis for his gentle and thoughtful reminder.
Right now I have a bacterial infection in my right shin and calf. I am being treated with antibiotics. We call this infection cellulitis. Only by the grace of God are my wife and I able to afford the cost of this drug. We live in Canada. We have an insurance program that makes it possible for us to afford the many drugs I need everyday. Still I can only take the medications for my other ailments, and trusting in my doctors can I get along. God has provided these “shepherds” for me. I cannot do anything to rid myself of this infection.
We need God’s guidance. May we be willing to accept it and go forward for Him.
Thank you Brother Curtis for ‘drawing’ this lovely picture of the Good Shepherd and the clueless sheep.
It certainly helps me understand my relationship with the Good Shepherd and my abject need for His protection and guidance.
I can see how the analogy to sheep is used by Jesus and by ourselves too. We are defenseless against life and the world without God. We would walk in circles, eating life to the quick until there is nothing left to feed us. We are defenseless in the face of the spiritual dangers of life: Fear, Ignorance, Distrust, Harm, Hatred. Without God, we can do nothing.+