I did a study over the summer about the seven “I AM” statements of Christ. Three of them, I learned, had to do with taking care of sheep. Not just any sheep, but the sheep that belong to God’s flock.
In one statement, Jesus is the doorway into that sheepfold. He is how you get in the door. You can’t climb in over the wall, Christ is the only way in.
In another statement, Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. He is the one responsible for all the sheep in His flock. He’s been directed to them by the Father and it is His job to take care of them. To keep them safe, by any means necessary – including caring for them when they are ill and disciplining them when they wander. (See Psalms 23 for a good picture.)
Now the third statement: Jesus is not only the way into the flock of God and the Caretaker of them, He is the path they walk on through the seasons. He is the way – the straight, narrow to stay safe and thriving in the flock.
It’s a simple idea with profound implications. We talk so much about giving, teaching, preaching, service, prayer, worship. We want to do it all. We want to get it right because we want others to know Him. That’s all good. He wants us to want the things He wants.
What so often happens though, we forget He is the way to do it all. It is only His finished work on the Cross that we can get anything done. It is only through Christ Crucified we can usher in the Kingdom of Christ Resurrected. It is only by a focus on walking with Him, daily (or hourly), in a cycle of repentance to rest, the Kingdom will be realized.
I’m convicted enough to say something because I know the difference between His way and my way. Over and over, I find rest and joy when I turn to Jesus instead of to myself or others. However, I mostly screw things up when I don’t turn to Him. When my emotions surge and I am overwhelmed, if I don’t hit the pause button to say, “Ok, Lord, You go,” things are going to get ugly.
It isn’t just enough to say that two years ago, the Lord healed my daughter. I want to experience Him like that daily. I want to see His power at work every day. I want to desire Him more than life. So, I have to ask Him for that. I have to go to Him, I have to keep my heart and mind open to Him by centering on Him.
I’m not going to mature in my faith if I don’t. I won’t find solace if I don’t seek the growth that comes from the continual cycle of repentance and right positioning. Spiritual health is arguably more important than physical health if we want to lead lives of abundance and freedom.
So, I came up with a self-test (drudged up from a memory of someone else’s writing no doubt. I am so not original.) I want to know if I am growing or if I’m stagnating. I decided my examples had to resonate, or I’m off the beaten path and that’s definitely a problem.
Have a crack at it; see where you are.
1. What is God doing in my life right now?
2. What freedom am I experiencing through further dependence on Christ’s way of living?
3. What prayers of mine, big and small, has God answered recently?
4.. How is the Holy Spirit redeeming me today?
Can you pull up something less than a month old? Or you are harkening back to what God did years ago? Are you hot, cold or lukewarm? Is your love for Him chilling or is your burning zeal a roaring fire?
The answers to those questions are between you and Jesus. If the results are stark, I’m here to remind you, your life has a (even) greater purpose than what you are living for now. You might have to wait on the big reveal, but the first step is to admit you are a sheep gone astray. Jesus loves to meet you where you are and bring you back to His place. You don’t have to clean up or prayer harder or do more.
Just admit it to Him and you are back on the right path, freshly washed. Seek up-to-date answers and He won’t fail to provide. If you are good to go – keep going! Blessings coming!
God’s love is one addiction we are supposed to have. Keep seeking it, hungering and thirsting for Him above all else. You will never regret it. He will lead you, guide you, heal you, put hope in you.
Because His love never fails, never runs out and never gives us. It is the most excellent way!