Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd. I know this is true because that is the way He saved me. Truly a lost sheep, I had rejected my faith; everything spiritual inherited from my father; the pastoral education I received and all the friendships that I had built in the church. Thankfully, I had a mother who prayed for me every day from the time she knew she had conceived.
When the years stretched into decades, she never missed a day. Other family members thought to be kind to mom and told her to, “let Buddy go and give it to the Lord.” But she persisted daily in prayer with faith believing that God would save her lost boy. I do not know how much the power of her prayers had to do in the process of my rescue, but I am thankful for them. I am more thankful for the Good Shepherd. Because Jesus came looking for me.
I firmly believe that grace comes to us when we freely respond to the universal call of Jesus Christ:
“God so loved the world that he gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Emphasis mine)
But I know this by experience: I did not choose Jesus, Jesus chose me. He sought me in my spirit and drew me to the Bible where I read that He loved me and wanted to impart His grace to me if only I would quit running and surrender to Him. The story is longer than this article can contain, but the end of it is that I experienced His redeeming grace and the restoration of my life. And beyond the expectation of myself and everyone that knew me, He made me a shepherd.
Lost and Found
As a pastor, I am thankful for the experience of being lost and found. I have met some of the most wonderful people among my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are friends that I can count on in the best and worst of times. However, there are some stinkers among the saints, and I have learned through experience that I have to be a pastor to them too. Jesus chooses the sheep.
I do not choose the sheep. This applies to our families as well, because no one can choose their family. If I am to imitate the Good Shepherd, I must try to be like Him to every family member and remember my Mom’s example of love, patience, and persistent prayer for a difficult child.
A Good Shepard
I do not think anyone can be an effective leader without a shepherd’s heart. We can say that we love people and want the best for them. We can try to lead our family into following Jesus towards the best life possible for them. But they will not follow unless they see the love of a shepherd in action, not just in words.
This is the essence of being a good shepherd. Jesus, the Good Shepherd has given me the conviction that if He can find me and help me recover my life and make me one who shepherds, every lost person has hope of being found. Stop running and surrender to the One who pursues and be found.
George Cargill is a fourth-generation pastor. His first novel, In the Grip of God: Journey into Corinth, chronicles the trials of the early Corinthian church through the eyes of the Apostle Paul. You can read more from Pastor George on his blog at georgecargill.com. Visit his ministry at https://followingthebook.org.
In the Grip of God: Journey Into Corinth
Alone, beaten down, out of money, and pursued by his enemies, Paul leaves wealth, power, and love to bring the gospel to the great pagan city of Corinth. Facing danger and death, he must find a way to survive the laws of both the Jews and the Roman Empire itself. Soon, Paul finds himself no longer seeking God’s will but being inexorably carried along by Divine purpose.
You spoke right to me! I walked away from everything I’d been taught. At one point (after my stupidity) I shook my fist at God. Yet, He promised that no one could snatch believers from His hand. Recently, I sinned big time and felt such shame I confessed yet felt horrific and even questioned my salvation. So, thank you for this word. I am a mom, not a pastor, but I am responsible for my words and actions to those around me. Now, I pray for folks like those who prayed daily for me so long ago and never gave up. Even back to my grandmother. I thank God for these wonderful people who have been so strong in their own faith that their prayers were constant and that I finally heard. Amen. Again, thank you!