Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finding Christmas: The Joy of Relationship

I spent several years working full-time as a potter. Of all the pieces I made, one of my favorites was a shepherd holding a lamb. The simple mold captured a look of tenderness on the shepherd's face as he gazed at his little lamb in his arms. That small figure always come to mind when I think of our relationship with Jesus, our Good Shepherd. 

Isaiah wrote that the Lord would come with might and bring His reward with Him. 

"Like a shepherd He will tend his flock. In His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." (Isaiah 40:11 nasb)

He was speaking of Jesus and His relationship with His followers. We are the sheep of His pastures and He tenderly cares for us as a shepherd cares for his flock.

Isaiah described the "reward" of God in clear terms the people of Israel could easily understand. They knew about sheep and shepherds. They understood the relationship between them, so they could also understand the "reward" Isaiah described. 

The relationship IS the reward God offers His people.

If we hope to find a true celebration of Christmas, we must start as sheep in need of a shepherd, and begin with the most basic of relationships. Sheep and shepherd.

Having a Good Shepherd is the best possible life for a sheep. 

Read the relationship Isaiah described again. He will tend His flock. Gather His little lambs into His bosom. Gently lead. Tenderly care. Isaiah wasn't describing an antagonistic relationship. He wasn't describing something hard or unpleasant. 

Isaiah was describing a relationship that leads the sheep into the best pastures. The clearest water. The safest shelter.

There's only one requirement for this kind of relationship, and it's not optional. 

Sheep follow.

This Christmas season, begin by embracing the relationship God offers, the reward He brings. Allow Him to gather you, tend you, lead you, love you. In return, follow Him. You'll soon find that it's the sweetest relationship of all.
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