“For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25 NIV)
We are often told that “God is in control.” Even so, He created us with free will, and as such, the decisions we make affect the ways in which He directs us. Like everyone else, I am surrounded by decisions in my life, some significant, many others minor. My thought process is deliberate and usually slow to grind out, and often I agonize over simple choices and overthink the many options I am pondering.
While God can shape and inspire us, it is up to us to make the conscious decision to follow Him. Jesus drives this point home with His ‘I AM’ declarations in the gospel of John. When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” He did not follow it by saying that no one will go hungry because He feeds them. Rather, He stated, “He who comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35 NIV, emphasis added). He goes on to state the needed action on our part in all but one of the other ‘I AM’ statements (emphasis added in each case):
John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 10:9: “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.”
John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
John 14:6: “I am the way and life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him; he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Only when defining Himself as the good shepherd did Jesus refer to His own saving action: “the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NIV). He sacrificed His life for all who chose or will choose to follow Him. This one action atoned for all of our errant decisions, and put us back on the right path, in communion with God. The decision we must now make, and continue to make in numerous forms, is to follow that path wherever it may lead us.
We frequently find ourselves in situations that require decisions, both big and small. The choices we make determine our future, and whether or not these are perceived as important or trivial, they all influence where we are going. The only role that the Lord plays is giving us those options. Shepherding us, if you will.
And so we need to act, not stand still and agonize. Trust our God-given instincts, and make a step (or leap) forward. It all starts with a loving heart and mind. And if we get it wrong, God is there with grace to redirect us.
Daniel can be reached via email here.