Though I love fluffy, wooly sheep, I don’t know much about them. Except that they eat a lot and can pick a pasture clean in short order. So a good shepherd knows that he must keep them on the go, always looking for greener pastures. And knowing that defenseless sheep also need protection, he looks ahead, seeking shelter where his weary flock can safely rest. 

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:2-3 WEB

The Hebrew word for pasture, naah, implies not only food, but also a cool, refreshing resting place. For when out on the transhumance trail in the wildnerness, the shepherd searched out and knew the safe refuges, a cave or overhanging rock, where he could take his sheep during storms or extreme heat.

Transhumance, according to Google, was the practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another, in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer. The shepherds usually followed the same trails year after year.

Here in Abruzzo, our region of Italy, you can still find many transhumance trails. One, in fact, runs right through our town, which was once an overnight resting place for shepherds.

So the Good Shepherd knew the path his sheep must take.

He had already walked it before them, and knew of the dangers and hardships along the way. And he also knew where the safe shelters were, and was always ready to lead his flock there, where he would confine them in a quickly constructed sheepfold of sticks or huge thorns.

There, safely sheltered, he fed the weak, healed the injured, and warded off any lurking enemies. And the sheep himself didn’t have to do a thing – nothing at all. Nothing but stay close to the shepherd – where he got fed, healed, restored, and protected.

In following Christ we too will face enemies, peril, disease, and hunger.

For he takes us down a different path. One that goes against the grain of this wayward world, and which will procure us battles, trials and enemies. We will face moments of deep, dark valleys. But Christ already knew this and has gone before us to make provision for it all.

But like the sheep, who flee when danger is near, we are tempted to do likewise.

But that’s when we most need to run to our shepherd’s sheltering arms.

In those moments when we feel so weighed down that we are unable to sleep, pray, or even feed ourselves – that’s when we most need to turn to Christ.

And let him lead us to a safe place near the still and calming waters of his presence. For in him, we find all that we need. Through his rest, he heals our wounds. He feeds us with his goodness and his promises. And he restores our souls by reaching down to meet those deepest needs that he alone sees.

I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 WEB

So let’s learn from the sheep.

They don’t fret or worry over storms or enemies. They don’t try to run away. They simply follow the shepherd – running to his safe shelter. Looking to him for food, for comfort, and for safety. And there they are restored.

In our moments of greatest trial and worry, the Good Shepherd has us safely in his care. Enclosed in his sheltering arms, where he’ll securely keep us until the storm has passed over.

When you feel too weak to go on, just stop, rest, and stay close to him!

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Images | 1ST: sheep is my own. | 2ND: sill waters and 3RD: thorn-sheepfold are from David Padfield on FreeBibleImages.org, CC-BY-NC. | 4TH: tunnel by cattalin on Pixabay.

14 thoughts on “Our Good Shepherd Knows the Path

  1. The last two paragraphs spoke Spirit-inspired truth, Sheila, and brought great comfort to my heart today. Steve has been back in the hospital since Sunday, but is supposed to be discharged today. They’ve tweaked his medications once again; the hope is this newest combination will stop the seizures. (It’s like working out a puzzle.) The Good Shepherd DOES have us safely in his care, enclosed in his sheltering arms. And we know he’ll securely keep us until the storm has passed over. Thank you for delivering these reassurances from the heart of our Heavenly Father to us!

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. I am truly blessed that the words comforted you. I’ve been thinking about you and Steve, praying he was doing better. What you’re going through is not easy – but the Lord is sheltering you. Know that our prayers and thoughts are with you. He is faithful.

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      1. Thank you, Sheila! Once some strong meds get through his system (last dose was yesterday) and the side effects subside, I’m praying he’ll regain strength and vigor. It does seem the seizures are under control, and we’re praising God for that. Also, the most recent CT scan showed some shrinkage of the hematoma–hallelujah!

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  2. Not only does He know the path, but He’s there with us, before us and behind us. Such protection and provision are more than I can imagine. Thanks for this, my friend.

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    1. Oh, I love that, Dayle! With us, before us, and behind us. It’s more than I can imagine too, but gives me goose bumps just thinking about it! Thanks for reminding us that he is not only always with us, but all around us!!

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    1. Thank you Gail! Yes the sheep are beautiful. Abruzzo has long been known as a sheep-raising area. And in fact we have many sheep and lamb dishes in the cuisine. Psalm 23 is so full of rich imagery, peace, and safety. How can we ever read it without that filling our souls? The Lord is a faithful shepherd, and I’m grateful you too have experienced this in your life! God bless you, dear friend!

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