In the Gospel of John, Our Lord describes Himself as the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for His sheep. I was contemplating on this passage because of one of the hymns we were singing at Mass.
The refrain in the hymn (“Shepherd Me, O God”) goes like this:
“Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.”
Wow! Every time I sing this hymn, I think, how profound! What an awesome message!
Unfortunately, most of us live lives based on what we want, what we think, and what we feel. This is nothing but a recipe for disaster.
Living in a secular society, we are encouraged to focus on these things to the exclusion of anything else. What do you want? What do you think? What do you feel? And while it is good to know these things, they are not meant to be the basis for making life decisions. As the hymn says, when we focus on these things alone, they will bring us death. In fact, millions of people living this secular approach to life have brought a “culture of death” into the world. And because we are surrounded by this disordered thinking, living in the midst of all this confusion, we can often “miss the forest for the trees.” Remember, God is the Author of all life. Without Him there is no life, only death.
We need to wake up and get wise! Left to our own devices, we will self-destruct. Remember Adam and Eve? They were unable to rise above their wants and their fears. The mistake they made was not trusting God. How can we not put our trust in our Lord, Jesus Christ? Our Lord was born in human flesh for one purpose alone – He has come to redeem us, to save us from ourselves! He is the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for us, His sheep.
So how do we make better life decisions? We let Our Lord shepherd us! We go to Him in prayer and seek His counsel, His will.
- Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When needing to make an important decision, pray and fast for the Lord’s guidance and receive the Sacraments often. We can also confirm what the Lord tells our hearts by seeking Godly counsel from those we can trust are seasoned, mature Christians. It is important to surround ourselves with those who share our faith and will be supportive in our desire to seek the Lord’s guidance. The Lord will then lead us on our path.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
When we are finally ready to admit that we do not always know what is in our own best interest; that, in fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves; and that He really does love us and wants only the very best for us; then we are able to begin to trust Him with our lives. We become like docile sheep and let Him shepherd us. And He brings us out of death and into life!
“I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curse. Choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
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