The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, October 27, 2023, was written by Ted Rogers of Texas.
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
John 10:14-18 NRSV
From time to time a ewe will abandon her healthy lamb. Shepherds call such orphans "bummer lambs." When a shepherd encounters one, he picks it up, adopting it as his own. He bottle feeds it and lets it sleep with its head on his chest, comforting the small creature by the sound of his heartbeat.
My wife and I once adopted a bummer lamb and took her to our house to care for her. Whenever we returned home, as soon as the tiny lamb heard our voices she would run to the door, bleating in welcome.
When the lamb grows to be a sheep, it takes its place in the flock; but the bond between it and the shepherd remains. When the shepherd calls the flock to come, the orphan will hear and respond to the shepherd's voice first, running to greet him, drawing the other sheep to the shepherd.
This reminds me of the Good Shepherd: "My sheep listen to my voice; and I know them, and they follow me." If you have ever been a "bummer lamb," know this: though you have been wounded deeply, God will cherish you. When we listen for God's voice and are ready to follow God's call, we can help lead others to God's love.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
Many of us have had the privilege of having extended families, a family we are not connected to biologically or through marriage. Usually our extended family is the family of our best friend, who have welcomed us like we were one of their own. The beauty of having an extended family is the knowledge that they chose to adopt us into their family, they were not forced nor had an obligation. That level of kindness and compassion is moving.
As people of faith, we have all been adopted into the family of God. None of us could merit or earn such an honor, but God freely offers it to us. Much like the "bummer lambs" of Ted's reflection, we respond with joy when we hear God calling us. Our joy filled service is an expression of our love and affection for the one who cared for us when others abandoned us. Let us remember these words from Jesus: "14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me." May our actions today demonstrate that we belong to the Good Shepherd!
Dear Lord, may we hear your voice, know your will for us, and be quick to follow you. Amen.