This morning, I sat down for my quiet time with my Bible, journal and reading notes. I have been working through the section in the Gospel of John where Jesus talks of Himself as “the good shepherd” (John 10 vs. 1 – 30). The particular verse that I was focusing on this morning was verse 27;
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
In our modern western culture, we are aware that sheep are driven and guided. We may marvel at the skill of our modern shepherds controlling their sheep dogs to guide the sheep where they need to be. However, there is something special about the image that Jesus presents us with, a shepherd walking ahead of his sheep calling for them to follow.
Of course, these verses and images are familiar to those of us who have been a round church circles for a little while. However, my notes encouraged me to think of things in a slightly different way this morning. I found that, what they suggested, was profoundly helpful.
Let me explain.
I am used, at the end of the day, to stopping and reflecting back. I reflect on my whole day. I think about those things that went well, those things that did not. I will ask myself if there were times that I felt especially close to God or, were there times when God felt absent. I ask myself if I have encountered God in places, or people, where I did not expect Him. It’s a good thing to do and is part of my daily routine. When I have done this, I take the opportunity to hand the day over to God complete with its successes and failures.
My notes today suggested that, as well as doing this at the end of the day, why not do this also at the start of the day? I sat with my diary in front of me and looked at the list of appointments, the tasks that needed to be done. I was aware of the things that I will accomplish, those things that needed to be put aside. I was aware of the pastoral visits and how I would seek to bring the comfort of God in various situations. I thought about the conversations of celebration and those that would be a little harder. Most of all, I became aware of the clamor of voices that would fill my day and I thought of Jesus words;
My sheep listen to my voice
I then used my imagination and tried to picture Jesus in my day. What did He look like? What was He doing? What was He saying?
I had, at that point, what I can only describe as a really profound experience. The picture I saw was of an outstretched hand. It was almost as if I was being invited to reach out and hold Jesus hand!
As my prayer time came to a close, I was left with this real assurance that, whatever today holds, I do not journey through it alone. I can reach out and put my hand into the hand of Jesus and travel with Him.
Why don’t you give it a go and see what Jesus says to you?