Following the Shepherd

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I don’t know the way.

I like to think I do,
that I can get myself there,
chart my own waters,
make my own decisions,
know what is best

but

I am easily distracted
by something that looks interesting,
tasty,
shiny.
I like to walk on the wild side,
laugh in the face of danger,
challenge good advice.

I won’t fall down there.
Who says that’s not good for me?
But I just want to taste.

But you,
you Lord,
you know what I need
and you will lead me there
if only I am not so stubborn.

You know the green, lush fields,
the safe spaces,
the resting place
for me.

You watch me like a hawk,
ready to catch,
to water,
to lovingly tend and rescue me
yourself,
whatever the cost.

You love me
and walk with me
every day of my life,
every step I take,
you are there,
whether I see you or not.

However difficult,
desperate,
painful
things are

You,
you are there.

You walk with me.

Companionable,
Caring,
loving,
tending
God.

May I learn to hear your voice
and follow it
all the days of my life.

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Psalm 23 (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

23 You, Lord, are my shepherd.
    I will never be in need.
    You let me rest in fields
    of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
    and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
    and you lead me
    along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
    but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
    and your shepherd’s rod
    makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
    while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
    and you fill my cup
    until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
    each day of my life,
    and I will live forever
    in your house, Lord.

John 10:11-18 (CEV)

11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

Don’t Be Frightened

What has happened?
What is happening?
So many strange rumours,
appearances,
feelings
all swirling round
inside me.

I don’t know what is happening
any more.

And then he’s here.
Or is he?

Is it Jesus,
our friend,
our Lord?
Or a vision?
Wishful thinking?
One of those things
when you feel someone who has died
is there next to you,
only to realise
of course,
they are not.

This is all playing with my emotions,
messing with my head.
Why did I get mixed up in this?

~~~

But wait,
he’s speaking –
that familiar, gentle, affirming voice.

He’s inviting me to look,
to touch,
to feel,
to know.
To no longer wonder,
but to be sure,
to experience Jesus
as he is now.

He is not dead,
he is alive.

This is what it’s all been about.

This is God,
love,
life,
presence.
And he stands here
in my life
now.

Luke 24:36-48 (CEV)

What Jesus’ Followers Must Do

36 While Jesus’ disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. 37 They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost.

38 But Jesus said, “Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? 39 Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, “Do you have something to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish. 43 He took it and ate it as they watched.

44 Jesus said to them, “While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms[a] had to happen.”

45 Then he helped them understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them:

The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. 47 They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, 48 you must tell everything that has happened.

Reach Out and Touch Faith

I just can’t grasp it.

You tell me he’s alive,
that you’ve seen him,
but that’s not working
for me.

I saw him die,
I know he’s dead.
Your experience says different,
but I’m just not getting it.

I need to know,
I need to see,
to touch
and be touched.

I know that makes me weak,
my faith dependent on seeing
not believing,
but that’s what I need.

~~~

Oh how you know me Lord,
you know what I need
and you supply.

You allow me to see,
to touch,
to know.

How I wish I had the faith
to just believe,
but now
in reaching out
and touching
I know.

I believe.

You are alive

and you come to me in my need.

You invite me to reach out
to you.

I come now.

Thank you Lord,
for your presence,
your risen presence.

Thank you for not
writing me off,
but coming to me.

Thank you
that you are there,
whether I feel
I can reach you
or not,
ever present,
in my life,
in your world.

John 20:19-31 (CEV)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them 20 and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy.

21 After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn’t with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25 So they told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But Thomas said, “First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won’t believe unless I do this!”

26 A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27 and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”

28 Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!”

Why John Wrote His Book

30 Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life.