The Patient Shepherd
Updated: Feb 15
By Madalyn Fisher
The Lord is My shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
My Dad bought sheep for my twin sister and me when we were 7 years old. It was our responsibility to feed and care for them. Every morning before breakfast we had to move them from their high-fenced pen to the pasture where there was water and grass.
To move the sheep, you have to open the gate and let them run across the road. There are several distractions that tempt them along the way. First, there’s a feedstore (sheep love to eat). My dad’s shop, the backyard, and the equipment are other delightful places to explore. To keep them on the right track, you have to hustle them to the pasture gate and head off any ring leaders that steer the rest of the herd astray.
One day I had to do chores by myself, and I was having a hard time. I would flush all the naughty sheep out of the backyard, where they would bolt to the shop. Once I got them out of the shop, they would run for the feedstore. It was all I could do to keep them semi-contained. The feedstore was the worst place for them because it’s so difficult to get them out. Besides, too much feed isn’t good for sheep. They'll eat till they die; they just don’t know when to stop.
After repeatedly chasing my sheep in circles, I became frustrated. Tears started running down my cheeks as I struggled in vain to make the sheep obey me. I needed help. “If only my sister or mom would come!” I thought. As I ran to and fro, I contemplated my situation. I thought about how similar I was to the sheep. Jesus says that we are His sheep, but “all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
Eventually, my mom came and helped me, and we succeeded in herding the sheep. I will never forget that stressful experience. I got a small taste of what it’s like for God when He guides me. I want to run in different directions and go where I shouldn’t. I learned that God is a magnificent shepherd. He doesn’t get frustrated easily. He “tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). He doesn’t get angry and force the weak to hurry. He loves His sheep so much that He died for them. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
The sheep/shepherd analogy is used throughout the Bible to represent God and His people (Ezekiel 34:30-31). We were all lost, but Jesus died for us (John 10:15). The sheep hear God’s voice and know Him (John 10:26-28).
The sheep represent us well. We’re both foolish. We think we know better than God. We run places that are dangerous. God’s warnings fall unheeded on our ears. We are helpless; unable to defend ourselves against sin. The obedient sheep who hear and know God’s voice are the ones who trust and follow His shepherding. They are willing to let Him change their lives.
When you feel afraid, run to Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd, and He will gently lead you. Trust in His guidance— shepherds know so much more than sheep. Don’t focus on the distractions as my sheep did. Concentrate on the right path and don’t follow others who are straying and disobedient. I love the words to the hymn My shepherd Will Supply my Need. They vividly describe the peace God can give. When you know the simple fact that your Shepherd will supply your needs, many worries will dissolve.
My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed
Beside the living stream
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways
And leads me, for His mercy's sake
In paths of truth and grace
When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
A word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest
But like a child at home