“Mom, Mom! I found a sheep in a tree!” HUH? My youngest proceeds to show me his video game screen with the sheep stuck on a higher tree limb nervously moving from side to side. I laugh. The video game he plays is a 3D world adventure in which he can build constructions out of cubes. I learn so much from my children. The video games are nothing like the adventures Pitfall Harry and I used to have together back in the 80’s.
The image of the sheep flash through my mind. I wonder if there is something else to learn here. While finding God’s purpose is an adventure, other kinds of adventure parallel or even look like God’s purpose even when it’s not. How do I know what purpose I have or what gift God wants me to use when I see others who have the same gifts?
1 Peter 2:21-25 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.”
Pretend I am a sheep. I have a wonderful Shepherd who loves me. If I seek the Shepherd’s purpose for me, do I end up in a tree? Possibly. Yet, I know my shepherd will come for me if I get stuck in a tree. I might dance from side to side while I wait, but I know my Shepherd will come. Jesus will come!
What if His purpose is to allow me to climb the same tree not once but twice? All the sheep on the ground look up at me in the tree. What do the sheep think? Am I to explain why I climbed the tree? What if my sheep buddies start bleating me (pun intended)? My Shepherd did not retaliate when He was insulted nor did he threaten revenge. I am to leave my case in the hands of God and not compare to any other sheep in the flock. I dance again from side to side while I wait impatiently never realizing the show I put on for the other sheep. Confidence in my Shepherd alone reminds me that anything others may say or do is a form of judgment. Even Jesus tells us that He does not have the power to judge on his own will until God tells him.
John 5:30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
The same tree might be a purpose for one sheep and a temptation or threat to another. Is it fair? It doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not. It’s based on God’s purpose for each one of us which is not revealed to us all.
The Good Shepherd knows me and takes care of me when I seek His purpose regardless if it’s in a tree. The view is spectacular from up here.
John 10:10b,14-15 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.