March 17, 2016 • Life for Leaders
[Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we saw that Jacob referred to God with a threefold identification: 1) the God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked; 2) the God who has been my shepherd all of my life to this day; 3) the angel who has redeemed me from all harm. In the first part of this description, Jacob referred to God in light of his family history. He was not the first of his kin to be in a covenantal relationship with God. Rather, he inherited this status from his grandfather and father, and this was a crucial element of Jacob’s sense of God.
Help me, Lord, to trust you as my good shepherd. Keep me from fear of the unknown. Teach me to trust in you all things and at all times, knowing that my life is safe in your hands.
Yet, Jacob’s experience of God was not simply a hand-me-down. The second way he identified God was as “the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day.” Notice that God was not just a shepherd or the shepherd of all of his people, but rather “my shepherd.” Throughout his whole life, Jacob personally experienced God’s guidance, nurture, discipline, and tender care. He knew God in the way of the writer of Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.”
Jacob’s example encourages us to remember how God has shepherded us in our lives. Perhaps you can pause for a few moments and think about this along with me. As I begin to make a mental list of how God has guided me, protected me, and blessed me, I am stunned once more by the goodness of God my shepherd. Of course there have been times in my life when I have had difficulty seeing God’s shepherding care, times when I have doubted that God was indeed, “my shepherd.” But, when I stand back and take a wide and long look at my life, I have to agree with Jacob. God has indeed been my shepherd all of my life to this day. In faith, I believe he will be tomorrow and the next day as well.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Could you echo Jacob’s description of God as his shepherd?
Have there been times when you have been unsure of God’s shepherd-like care for you? Are you in one of those times right now?
What have you experienced in life that has confirmed the fact that God is your good shepherd?
Gracious God, thank you for being our good shepherd, my good shepherd. Thank you for all the ways you have fed me, guided me, protected me, and helped me. Thank you for all the times you have delivered me from the messes I have made for myself. Thank you for having a vision for my life that greatly exceeds my own.
Help me, I pray, to trust you as my good shepherd. Keep me from fear of the unknown. Teach me to trust in you in all things and at all times, knowing that my life is safe in your hands. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.