BY CURT AUSTIN, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
I've only known one shepherd in my lifetime, and his name was Ed. Oh, I've known several farmers who raised sheep, and even had a single lamb on our farm when I was a kid growing up in east-central Indiana. But, Ed was the real deal.
I first met Ed in 1987, when my wife and I moved to Kentucky. Ed was our neighbor and he had an endearing habit of calling me ""Lad"". Over the years we spent many hours talking about his love for a man named Jesus, life, children, music and his work prior to moving to Kentucky.
As Ed told the story, in the early '70's he left factory work and secured a position as a groundskeeper for the inventor of a popular brand of toothpaste. This man bought a huge property in Michigan and hired Ed to manage his vast estate. Ed became a landscaper and gardener. He built paths through quiet woods, bridges across bubbling streams, and fences through rolling green hills and pastures. Ed was a master craftsman and I was lucky enough to see hundreds of photographs documenting his creations.
Ed had the idea of adding sheep to the landscape in an effort to give the massive northern property a more serene, pastoral feeling. The owner agreed and Ed started building the flock, purchasing just a few sheep and allowing the herd to grow over the years.
He spoke with fondness as we looked at a picture of a much younger version of himself walking up a wide path, sheep close on his heels, headed over a ridge and into to the fields. Ed fed the sheep in the morning and walked them to the pasture where they would enjoy the summer grass during the day. He would call to them in the evening and they would come running, following him down that same path, back to the safety of the barn for the night.
Over the years, the sheep learned that they could trust Ed...and Ed learned to deeply love the sheep.
This past summer, I've thought a lot about Ed as we've listened to messages about what it means to follow Jesus. I've asked myself if I am truly willing to follow the shepherd wherever he leads.
If you were present in services this past week, you heard Dave recap a few of the things Christians will do if they are truly following their Shepherd and I was challenged to think that I might not be fully trusting of the one who calls me by name.
Over the summer, we've learned that followers of Jesus will:
1. Love people in the most extreme way possible
2. Meet people right where they are
3. Pay attention to the needs of those around them
4. Run to it...the pain, the danger, the tragedy and the chaos
5. Bring sanity and peace into the world's desperate situations
6. And for those who truly proclaim Christ, face persecution
Oh, sure, I might pay attention to people from time to time. I might even be willing to meet people right where they are...especially if they are willing to step a little closer. I might love people occasionally, but I'm not sure I run to it. In fact, I'm more likely to run from it. I'm not confident that I bring sanity; instead, I more often add to the insanity.
It’s sad, really. God asks for so much more.
The sheep followed Ed’s voice without question. They loved him. They trusted him. But I’m not sure I do a very good job following my own shepherd's voice. Do I truly love Jesus? Do I fully trust him? Am I really a “little Christ”?
How about you?
Follow Your Shepherd
After pondering over that question, I want to give you three opportunities to get involved on a deeper level.
1. Way of Discipleship. Learn what it really means to follow Jesus in a one-on-one discipleship relationship. Click here for more info.
2. Connect & Grow. Maybe you are new to this who church thing and need a place where you can learn more about God and the Bible while connecting in deep relationships with other Christians. Learn more here.
3. Serve Others. Maybe you've heard God whispering in your ear to take the next step for some time. And, maybe you've held off because you're busy or simply don't know where to start. Well, we are here to help! Click here to learn more about serving at Grace and click here to learn more about local serving opportunities in Indy.