Separation Anxiety

Holding my daughter, Christmas 1986.

My childhood memories of going to the grocery store with my mom are not entirely pleasant. When we went shopping I had a tendency to get distracted by something and wander off. Sometimes I’d only be around the corner from her when I realized I was on my own and panic. Although you’d assume this is a fairly common occurrence with children, I apparently made an impression in one particular store. At an age when I could legally buy alcohol, a checker remembered me as the little boy who was always getting lost. How embarrassing! Truth is, to this day I still don’t have the best inner compass. My wife will know which door we came in. Me? I’ve got a decent shot if I can consult my phone’s GPS. How about you? Do you have a good sense of direction? There are definitely survival skills you can learn that will help you find your way home should you get lost, but all sorts of circumstances can present themselves which make that more difficult. Sometimes… we need to be rescued.

A different kind of lost is being lost spiritually. I’ll bet a lot of people are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, even if they didn’t learn it in Sunday school.
So he told them this parable:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:3-7
ESV

There is a unique tension, an anxiety in each of our lives that will persist until its resolution by God’s only son. God values each of us so much that He sent Jesus Christ to make a way for us to come home. No matter how far you wander, no matter how many self-help or self-discovery books you consult, in the final analysis there is only one shepherd qualified to bring you home. His name is Jesus.

When morning has broken
what night tried to repair,
and the confidence I sought
turning in
disappears
in the crisp morning air,
Jesus, don’t let me be lost.
I’m treading in
waters of trepidation.
My arms and legs are tired,
and I can’t catch my breath.
Feels like I’ll die from hesitation
if I don’t reach out to you.
Don’t let fear keep me
from the right destination.
Take my hand,
guide me with your truth.


©Joel Tipple 12/9/2019




Good Shepherd

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
John 9:10-11 NASB

“It takes some of us a lifetime to learn that Christ, our Good Shepherd, knows exactly what He is doing with us. He understands us perfectly.”
W. Phillip Keller

“In most, when you go to church, most churches when they have images of the good shepherd, they show Jesus carrying a nice fluffy lamb. Now fluffy little lambs don’t stray from their mommy. The lamb that will stray is the most obstreperous, troublesome one.”
Desmond Tutu

God, I struggle to believe you are a “good” shepherd. For I believe good implies average. An average shepherd would go the reasonable distance, put forth a reasonable effort. A good shepherd would weigh the odds of success in each effort to protect a lamb from harm. A good shepherd wants to live to see another day, another paycheck, another warm meal. A good shepherd might take into account whether his health insurance is going to put him back together again if an aggressive wolf decides to test his resolve.

But you’re not just a “good” shepherd, are you, Lord? No, you’re the kind of shepherd who would and, in fact, did, give His life for His flock. This kind of resolve and protection was not modeled accidentally. The lessons made manifest in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are many; enough to ponder over a lifetime. Help us to recognize the difference between the average shepherd and the greatest.

© Joel Tipple 11/14/2018