Riding on the Shoulders of the Good ShepherdDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices."
When I reflect upon Jesus' story of the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, I am struck by his description of what the shepherd does when he finds his sheep: "When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices" (15:5). You see, this image stirs up poignant memories from my childhood.
Growing up in Southern California as a young boy, my family and I had a yearly tradition of visiting the Rose Parade on New Year's Day. We'd park a couple of miles away and walk to the parade route. It was a long haul for a youngster with short legs. On the way back, I could hardly keep going. Thank goodness my dad was there to help. He'd reach down and sweep me up onto his shoulders. I'd hold on tightly to his head as he grasped my ankles. (He did not like it when I grabbed his ears, however.) From my lofty perch, I could see for miles. More importantly, I could rest, feeling utterly secure and loved while resting on my dad's strong shoulders.
Thus, when I read the story of the good shepherd and the lost sheep, I allow myself to feel what it's like to be on the shoulders of Jesus. I imagine his strength, his solid but gentle grip. I feel safe and cherished. I know that Jesus will not let go of me, but will carry me home.
And so it is with you too. We are all lost sheep who have been found by our good shepherd. We all have been swept up onto his strong shoulders. When we are too weak to walk on, Jesus carries us. Thus, we can live without fear, confident in the strong grace of our Lord.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you have any memories of being carried when you were young? If so, how did it feel? If not, perhaps you have had the experience of carrying someone else. Can you imagine how that might feel? How does the thought of riding on the shoulders of Jesus strike you? In what ways do you need Jesus to carry you today?
PRAYER: I begin my prayer today, Lord, by thanking you for my father. Though he has been with you for twenty-five years now, and though my Rose Parade memories are now a half-century old, I can still feel what it was like to be carried by him. What a gift to have had a father who helped me to understand your love for me.
Yet, no matter our life experience, no matter how lost and unworthy we might be, you seek us out. And when you find us, you lift us up and place us securely on your solid shoulders. You carry us when we are weak, when we are tired, when we feel as if we simply cannot go on. Thank you, dear Lord, for being our good shepherd.
Help me, dear Lord, to live each day relying on you. Amen.