A good shepherd knows his sheep. The wild ones who tend to stray, the skittish ones who stay close. The weakest lambs who need to be carried, the aging sheep who need extra help.
A good shepherd knows life and death. The blood and sweat of birth, the tense moments when survival hangs in the balance. The sudden stop or lingering pain of death, the way a body changes at the end.
A good shepherd knows seasons and surroundings. The dark clouds that carry storms, the whipping winds that signal change. The promise of a distant pasture, the babble of a nearby brook.
A good shepherd knows danger and disease. The wolves that prowl at night, the sickness that threatens a flock, the harm of hired hands who do not care.
You know something of the same.
In the work you’re called to do. For the people you’re called to love. You were created for this time and place, with particular gifts for particular needs. With eyes that see what no one else can. With ears attuned to what others cannot hear.
You know yours, and they know you. Just like the good shepherd, you rise each morning to lay down your life again. Even in small ways that the world never sees. But the Father sees you and loves you. He knows your heart longs to be like the One Who is Love.
If you listen, you will hear His voice. What you long for will lead you.
He promised you this. His promises do not fail. He is the Good Shepherd.
Today, when you struggle with whatever challenges arise, remember that you were created and called to follow the Good Shepherd. Remember that He knows you and you are His. Draw strength from His love to care for the ones He calls you to tend.
Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and project director for the Collegeville Institute at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is the author of several books including Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting and the co-author of Living Your Discipleship: 7 Ways to Express Your Deepest Calling. You can find out more about her here.