Follow the Leader?

I have adored sheep every since my childhood years of gleefully watching mama ewes and their baby lambs in the local pastures. In a college animal science class, our professor was a world-renowned “sheep management specialist.” I’ll never forget the class when we got in a pen with about a half dozen sheep and ran our hands through their lanolin-coated wool. I also recall trying to lead a sheep in that pen by gently, then more firmly tugging on his halter. Nope. That off-white creature was not budging. Call him stubborn or smart or a combination of the two and you’ve basically described us.

Face of a white lambThe Bible mentions the word sheep about one hundred seventy-five times and often depicts people as sheep. This past Sunday my pastor explained the text of John 10 about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. Pastor Josh pointed out two main styles in getting sheep to budge and follow. Western sheepherding relies predominantly on herding breed dogs to come behind the sheep, barking and nipping at the animals’ heels. (Raising a sheltie for ten years and now a collie, I fully understand scurrying when a herding dog nips at your heels!) In contrast, Middle Eastern sheepherding centers around the shepherd calling the sheep in his care to respond to his voice. Call off the dogs and welcome God’s calming voice. We can either be driven and pressed to follow or follow because we feel safe and secure.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. . . . My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14–15, 27).

Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, declared these words just days before He would sacrifice His own life on the cross on behalf of sometimes stubborn and non-budging sheep like us. The Good Shepherd is tenderly calling you and me. Let’s turn down the earthly static around us and lean into listening for Him today. No nipping dogs. No digging in our heels. Shhhh. . . . Just the steady voice of the one Leader we can always trust and follow.

 

What’s a baaaaaaa-eautiful story of following God’s voice in your own life?

Brave and Resilient Tip #102: Listen for the steady voice of the one Leader you can always trust and follow.

Let’s Talk

Fear in Turbulent Times

— by Dr. Helen McIntosh

Q. There’s so much fear and anxiety in our world. North Korea wants to bomb us, so many feel overwhelmed financially and more. How do we overcome this fear?

A. Let’s Talk! A contest years and years ago asked for paintings that illustrated peace. Many tranquil scenes were submitted as you would imagine, but the winner was a painting of a mother bird hovering over her nest of babies in the cleft of a rock behind a large and thunderous  waterfall. Yes, IN SPITE OF our circumstances, brave and resilient warriors seek peace!

There is another picture of birds – this time eagles – that will provide a visual of possibilities. A friend, Jeanne Carter, gave this as a devotional a few days ago:

  • Isaiah 40:31 says that, “We who wait upon the Lord will renew our strength; we will mount up with wings like eagles; we will run and not be weary; we will walk and not faint.” Concerning eagles’ nests: Have we considered that the feathers that have made our nest comfortable may have been fear, worry, anxiety . . . something familiar? Has the Lord shaken your nest? Jesus is trying to pluck things out of the nest and the sticks of life are poking us, making our nest less comfortable or familiar than it used to be. He is encouraging us to get out of the nest with Him into a free fall of total surrender, trusting in Him alone.

 It is God’s kind intention to help us navigate our fears, especially in turbulent times. He lovingly wants to deliver us and protect us. We have talked about reframing fear and anxiety in earlier posts (Reframing Fearful Thoughts, Fear, Control, and Letting Go) and asking God to speak to us very specifically about all that is “under” the issues. Another friend used to say, “It isn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the load under the straw!” What is under your straw? Can you give God your load? It is freedom and the flight path upwards.

We’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks. I would so welcome your sharing your personal loads/straws so I can address the more specific needs of your hearts. Will you? Let’s Talk! You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.