When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. – I Corinthians 13:11
Recently I heard a Bible teacher outline the spiritual journey of a Christian in three stages: Curious, Convinced, and Committed.
Hearing this brought back a memory of a brief but vivid dream from years ago. I wrote about it here before, but for the 600 followers I’ve picked up since then, I think it worth repeating, especially in a time where the world is in so much turmoil.
Looking out the window, I saw a large squirrel, pure white. As I was thinking I’d never seen an albino squirrel, it began to grow, morphing into a sheep!
Confused, I asked the person next to me, “Is that a squirrel, or a sheep?” – realizing the moment the words were out of my mouth how silly they sounded.
But now the sheep was changing, too! Its legs were getting longer and more slender, and the way it moved was less like a sheep’s walk and more like the energetic trot of a dog. It was only then that I noticed a young man calling to the squirrel/sheep/dog. Promptly and obediently it came and trotted alongside its master.
When I woke up, I lay there for a few moments, asking the LORD, What was that all about???
I thought about the characteristic of the three animals, starting with the squirrel.
Squirrels are … well, squirrely. They are curious and flighty, with an attention span of about two seconds. I can only imagine how their little minds run. Hey-what-IS-that?-wow-cool-That’s-awesome-gotta-go-now! Squirrels are energetic and entertaining, but don’t expect them to be responsible. One thing they are not is committed.
As a child I was flighty (even more than now), and although I now know God was caring for me and looking out for me as I explored my world, I was oblivious to His presence in my life. I was a little squirrel – cute perhaps, but pretty useless.
Sheep, on the other hand, are not oblivious to their shepherd! They know he is their guide to food and clear, clean water. He’s their protector and the one who cares for them when they are sick or injured. Sheep are almost never far from their shepherd. If one does wander away, it most certainly will find some kind of trouble and need to be rescued.
When I first knew about Jesus, I loved Him in my own little-lamb way. I trusted Him, knowing that He had created me, came to earth to save me, died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins, protected me, provided for me, healed me, and would someday give me eternal life in heaven!
That’s an awful lot of “me’s!” My love for Jesus then was based on the things He did for me. As long as I was being cared for, I would follow Jesus, and I usually took Him for granted. It never dawned on me that I could do anything for Him.
Dogs also know where their food and care come from, but unlike sheep, their loyalty is not based entirely on having their needs met. A dog is often in the position to serve his master, as well. Dogs help firefighters and law enforcement officers save lives, help sheep herders round up the flock, or bring love and joy to patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Service dogs can guide the blind or alert a patient of a medical need. Even the average family dog can find ways to help, guarding the home, alerting the family when company comes, or just being there to hug after a bad day.
As I have matured in my relationship with Jesus, I desire to serve Him – not to get Him to love me, because I know He already does – but to express my love and gratitude. After all, He suffered and died to save my soul. Today I want to make Him smile.
Which creature are you?
Do you identify with the loyal dog, wholeheartedly serving your Master? Does His kingdom benefit from your ministry and mission? Or are you more of a little lamb, just staying close to your Shepherd, trusting Him for getting your needs met?
Trusting Jesus is a great thing, especially if you’re a new believer. We should all have that quality of complete trust, all of our lives.
But are you ready to take your devotion to the next level and explore ways He might work through you to accomplish His purposes? Are you ready to give back to Him – not to earn His favor, but to celebrate His love and share it with others?
Every morning the news headlines have terrifying stories from all different fronts. The problems are overwhelming. We may want to stick our heads in the sand and wish it all to just go away. But as I often say, while sticking your head in the sand might be an option, it leaves the rest of you pretty vulnerable!
So, while we can rest in knowing we are His beloved sheep, there comes a time to step out of the green pastures and still waters of our comfort zone and reach a world that is lost and dying. Our Shepherd renews and strengthen us for a reason. No one of us can solve the world’s problems, but that isn’t an excuse to do nothing. God can use each of us to make a difference to someone. The Church can’t afford to simply graze in the comfort of the pasture.
The world needs JESUS, and we need all hands on deck!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being our Good Shepherd and for Your constant care for us, even before we knew You. Help us to grow spiritually, so that we can be all You created us to be, not only Your sheep, but Your servants. In Your name, amen.
Note to the curious: Maybe you aren’t even at the sheep stage yet. Maybe you’re just an energetic little squirrel, running aimlessly through life. Have you been keeping God at arms’ length, because the world has so many other things to occupy your mind? If so, maybe it’s time to finally get acquainted with the One who loves you so much that He died to give you life, and discover the reason He created you.
For more on this journey to true happiness, see the following posts: