“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want… He leads me beside still waters… He leads me in paths of righteousness…”
Depicting for us the image of One Who cares for His sheep, Jesus declares, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). Jesus wants us to follow Him just as sheep follow their Shepherd.
And yet, I know that my walk of following is inconsistent at best. Sometimes, I lag behind as I forget His promises, and neglect to trust Him for guidance. I begin to direct my own path, forgetting His more perfect and righteous ways. For seasons at a time, I can find myself lost in the wilderness. At these times, I need to remember that, once we make Jesus our Lord (and Shepherd), we have an additional promise to claim. Psalm 23 concludes with these words:
“Goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
As we follow Him, He follows us! I once read that this scene conjures up the image of His following us with two sheep dogs, one named Goodness, the other, Mercy. They nip at our heels to move us closer to the Shepherd.
Through difficult times of grieving, suffering and loneliness, I have experienced His goodness. He has pursued me by putting faithful friends in my life who have encouraged me by listening, comforting me and at times urging me to pick up the pace. And when I have lagged behind because of my own sinfulness, He invites me to repentance, and thereupon grants me peace and restoration. His mercy has followed me time and time again.
Who is following me? It is not condemnation. It is not abandonment. Rather, it is God’s goodness and mercy. Our Shepherd is ever before us leading the way, and at the same time ever behind us. He is indeed, our “Good” Shepherd.