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The Loving Pursuit of the Good Shepherd

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4

Bedtime is when everything can unravel in our home. I am (beyond) done. I have poured out all my reserves, my kids are stalling, and I am counting the minutes until I can take a shower because it’s been too many days (but I won’t disclose how many 😂). And time after time I come to the Father after that blessed shower, after I have snapped at the kids during the bedtime routine, and I just need my Good Shepherd to find me. I just need Him to pursue me and pour out His love on me - to remind me who He is and who I am. And he does - again and again and again (because motherhood is hard….again and again and again).

This Good Shepherd finds us, his sheep. He is motivated by Love - there is nothing in this for Him. He pursues us wholeheartedly and is committed to protecting us - his vulnerable, messy, sinful sheep.

Shepherding is sourced in love: In A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23, Keller describes the motivation of the Good Shepherd this way: “All the care, all the work, all the alert watchfulness, all the skill, all the concern, all the self-sacrifice are born of His love - the love of One who loves His sheep, loves His work, loves His role as a Shepherd” (118). Despite our own weaknesses and neediness, the Good Shepherd does everything possible to take care of us and provide an abundance for us, His sheep. The Good Shepherd works not for personal benefit but rather endures many inconveniences on behalf of his sheep. His sole desire is to protect them, nourish them, and see them flourish and thrive.

“All the care…work…alert watchfulness…skill…concern…self-sacrifice…” Does this not sound exactly like motherhood to you? 😂 And in the midst of all that we do and endure for our children it is unbelievably difficult to maintain sight of the grander picture and give continually to our kids out of a place of love. (ESPECIALLY, I would add, in survival-mode seasons or after a rough night of sleep 😴). My tendencies: grumbling, frustration, excessive sighing and selfishness. I am so insufficient in this shepherding business.

I need my Good Shepherd to give me a heart of flesh instead of stone (Ezekiel 36:26) - because my heart can harden so quickly when my little lambs are seemingly so needy. I need Him to sustain me by His Spirit and give me what I need for each day (manna) so that I can love my kids. I need Him to remind me of the greater purpose of motherhood, which often feels messy and mundane. I need Him to give me love for this assignment of motherhood so that I take up the task with excitement and gratitude and awe rather than grumbling. And thank goodness He does - He meets us in our lack and finds us in our lostness and supplies for our needs so that we can give our kids just a glimpse of His Greater Love.

Shepherding is active, not passive: You can find the shepherd in Luke 15 pacing the pastures, counting the sheep, watching for predators. At all times. I’m imagining this shepherd scarcely sleeping - he is vigilant and watchful. He “goes after” the sheep that is lost “until he finds it.” He is a persistent pursuer, concerned with protecting his sheep from dangers (and from themselves and their own folly). And this is how God, our Good Shepherd, pursues us and our children: with a concern for our wellbeing and a desire to be reunited with us and to restore us to the flock; with urgency and deep concern that motivates him to search for hours “until he finds [us].”

How can we pursue our children like our Good Shepherd? We “go after” our sheep through prayer: we intercede for them day and night. We pray for protection over them from the enemy, encircling them in our prayers. We pray for wisdom and discernment to know how to pursue them - to receive insight into their love languages and relational needs so that we can love them how they need to be loved. We pray for their hearts to be soft and receptive towards the things of God. We pray that they would see and know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We play offense and defense through our prayers.

We also pursue our children “until we find them:” we pursue them through a thousand intentional interactions and conversations. We pursue them even when it feels like we aren’t getting through to them - over years and years of reaching out over and over again. We press on through exhaustion and discouragement and rejection. We persevere. We continue to count our sheep and go after the one who is in a place of lostness or neediness, and we take the initiative to go to them just as our Good Shepherd came to us.

This week, may the Good Shepherd show you how He is pursuing you through His love in a myriad of ways that you might have a renewed vision for your assignment of motherhood and energy to extend His pursuing love to your little ones.

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