John 10:11-18 (MSG)
11 "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. 12 A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. 13 He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him. 14 "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. 15 In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. 16 You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."
I used to enjoy sailing but sold our boat many years ago. I was a fair weather sailor. I enjoyed the days when there was a good breeze and you didn’t have to fight the sails or worry about the danger of strong winds or a storm. The Catholic Priest and writer, Brennan Manning, tells a story of going to sea in his book, The Furious Longing of God.
From 1971 to 1973 Manning lived with a community of Franciscans at Bayou La Batre, Alabama. They worked on shrimp boats whenever the fishermen needed extra help. It wasn’t full-time work but provided enough money to support the small Franciscan community. Manning writes that “We were always careful when we went to sea. Always.”
One day, though, they suddenly found themselves at the end of a Texas tailstorm. The captain told them to get below deck. Below deck they reached for metal handles and dear life. Manning writes that he was convinced they were going to die. “Then the storm, the real storm, hit. Winds of 120 miles per hour. Sudden swells ten feet high. It was a fury unleashed. If a man would learn to pray, let him go to sea.” Manning goes on to say that in the storms of life we discover the God who is pursuing us with a “furious longing.”1
God is like the Good Shepherd who pursues us with mercy and grace. A Good Shepherd is one who pursues the welfare and health of his sheep at all costs. We have a Good Shepherd that is there in the storms of life. How can you be a shepherd helper to others? Think about it.
1 Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook), 18-19.