‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.’ (vv11–12)
When exploring any educational or training programme we always make a cost-benefit analysis. Is the investment of time, finance, and energy worth the return? We quantify this across a spectrum ranging from practical outcomes to personal achievement. I went back to university part time as a necessary distraction from the intensity of caring for my wife.
Whilst the content engaged me because I love study for its own sake, time spent with people who knew nothing of my situation was a refreshing break from the incessant enquiries from well-meaning friends. The surprising outcome was that God introduced me to the Eastern Orthodox Church and a way of thinking theologically which deeply ministered to me in a difficult season. I found my path at the point of my deepest need.
Attempting to learn more about the God we serve and how we might become more like Him, daily presents us with personal challenges. The intention to know God better will have unexpected and unintended consequences. We will find things about ourselves that might shock as much as satisfy. We’ll be shown a path we never knew existed, an access point into the hidden wonders of Narnia.
Here we’ll be equipped even as we are tested in the realm of our understanding and chosen way of life. Seldom will we emerge as we anticipated at the start of our learning journey, but without it we are likely to grow stale, even stagnant, and our faith will most likely wither away (1 John 2:19).
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Isa. 46:5–13; Hab. 2:2–5; John 11:17–44; Gal. 2:11–21.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: There are intangible, as well as tangible, consequences to pursuing God. Are you willing to enter into the discomfort that accompanies all learning?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, I choose to move from my comfort zone in search of a fuller understanding of myself and of You. Amen.