"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."
It is a great word from Christ, spoken when He is being questioned about His true identity. Is He the Christ? He says, "Yes" and adds the words just quoted as though it is not just His works that testify to Him, but His unique gifts to those who would believe and follow.
Here is the short list of the gifts of Christ He promises:
1. His voice...His communication, often by the Holy Spirit and inner prompts. We are not blindfolded, in the dark, trying desperately to connect.
2. His heart-on knowledge of us...our leader is also our best Friend. We are not alone, un-cared-for, without a friend.
3. His guidance of us...we get to "follow"...He's always been there first. It is not all a maze...and who knows what will happen.
4. His gift to us of life...that goes on and on forever...a cosmic crescendo. It is not "life is but a candle" but this is just the beginning of the universe going into overdrive.
5. His strong grasp of us, such that "no one will snatch them out of my hand."
Even when I am the one who is snatchy, His arms around me hold on tightly. I really am secure...just as I am, in Him.
Ten times in a few verses God is personalizing these words..."my, me"...He is saying, "I am in charge. I am fully invested in you." It is not - "So, here are the rules, and you'd better follow all of them well. Oh, and I'll be waiting to see if you did, when you enter eternity." No, no, no.
Our responses? To listen well, to follow (when we know that He is clearly out front), to live life fully, to let the security we have enable the risks we are to take now.
Might be worth a hop, skip and jump today.
Sheep do that you know.
Not baaad eh?
Yesterday Jackie and I were moved by both the Joplin gathering (the President's and Governor's words), and the National Memorial Day gathering from the mall in DC. Both so reflective of people very shaped by the qualities (mentioned above) that Christ promised could be ours.
A special thank you to all who have served and are serving the causes of freedom around the world.
We are deeply and forever grateful for your service.