Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

“I am the good shepherd.” John 10:11

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. One morning, super early, I woke in my dorm room in an old Carmelite convent to a very loud, very unfamiliar sound. When I made it to the window, I saw something I had never seen before. Thousands of sheep were making their way down the street right below my window, right through the middle of the city. With them were dozens of shepherds making sure that they navigated this strange new environment safely.

While it was certainly incongruous to see sheep running through the middle of a city, the image reminds me a lot of what Jesus the good shepherd means for us today. Often the images that accompany this I am statement are of an idyllic hillside with sheep peacefully grazing. Only rarely do you see sheep in a storm, or fleeing from predators, or in the middle of a city or town. But in reality, being a shepherd requires being with your sheep ALL the time, not just the peaceful times.

And that’s what Jesus promises us. Not that we will be his peaceful sheep on the gorgeous pastures all the time, but that he will be our good shepherd. When we face danger, we can turn to him and trust that he will lead us safely through peril. When the environment is new and frightening, he will show us the way. A good shepherd keeps his sheep from wandering off, and if we trust him, Jesus will keep us close to him. As a good sheep, I want to be honest with Jesus and others about the ways I am struggling with fear and anxiety, or when I have stepped off the path the shepherd has chosen for me.

For today: I will try to trust Jesus completely, especially in the areas of my life that cause me fear and anxiety. I will share honestly with others about my struggles, not just about the peaceful times. I will ask Jesus the good shepherd for direction and discernment about the path ahead of me.

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