Perhaps one of the most beloved Psalms is the 23rd. I was reminded of that this morning as I was officiating at a graveside service. And there is probably a good reason that it is so popular.
"The Lord is my Shepherd..." This metaphor captures so succinctly the nature of our relationship with our precious Lord.
Psalm 100 also mentions this idea: "We are His people; the sheep of His pasture."
Probably with this in mind, Jesus says of Himself in John's Gospel: "I am the Good Shepherd...and my sheep hear my voice."
I remember reading a story in a book about pastoral ministry, They Smell Like Sheep, by Lynn Anderson. In the Middle East, unlike cattle in the Old West, sheep are not driven in front of the shepherd. Instead, they follow the shepherd. And, in fact, many herds may graze together, watched over by their shepherds. But when the time comes to leave, each shepherd calls them in a unique voice. The sheep know the voice of their shepherd and follow him out of the other herds.
"...the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice" (John 10: 3-5).
Walking with Jesus is listening to the voice of the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. He calls us by name and, because we belong to Him, we respond and follow--to green pastures, beside quiet waters, and even through the valley of the shadow of death.
As we listen to his comforting voice, we do not fear evil. His guiding and correcting rod and staff are comforting because we learn to trust His lovingkindness.
Perhaps my greatest challenge is to simply follow Him like a sheep, letting go of my incessant need to be in control, and trusting in His love for me.