You were not meant to go it alone

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, August 25, 2022

It was a mystery to me.

A fat sheep had fallen into a long ditch about two-feet wide, and she was stuck. I stared at the video posted online, wondering how it had happened. The sheep could see the ditch—it wasn’t a hole. How had she ended up there?

I kept looking at her, but I couldn’t make sense of the situation. A mystery, as I said.

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Then a man came along. He climbed over the ditch, straddled it, and squatted down. The man wrapped his arms around the huge animal and lifted her to safety.

She didn’t seem to be afraid, so perhaps he was her owner. Her shepherd.

Free at last, the sheep sort of danced alongside the ditch. Happy. And rightfully so. But I kept considering the mystery. How had she found herself in that ditch?

Soon, it became clear.

The sheep suddenly jumped toward the ditch, perhaps having seen lighter sheep sail right over. The heavy girl went about a foot in the air, just far enough to get above the ditch, and then straight down—stuck yet again.

Mystery solved.

Sheep seem to have one thing in common—they make poor decisions. Many would characterize the animal as stupid.

And yet God compares His children to sheep. He could have chosen tigers or lions, but no. We’re sheep.

If you have any doubt, the Lord comes right out and says it. “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God.” (Ezekiel 34:31 NASB)

Recall what Jesus said some 600 years later? Was it:


  1. I am your shepherd;
  2. I will shepherd you;
  3. I shepherd and care for my sheep;
  4. All of the above; or
  5. None of the above?


Look over your choices and lock in your answer. Just give it a whirl.

Jesus didn’t say any of those things. He said, “I am the good shepherd …” The answer is No. 5

Why did our Lord add “good?” Let me explain. Stay with me.

Jesus tells us He existed before Abraham. “… before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58 NASB)

In fact, our Lord existed before time began. He’s in the first verse of Genesis, when God created the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word there for God is plural, “Elohim.” Christians believe this is God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is named repeatedly in the Old Testament, but where is Jesus? If you’re like me, the moments you spot Him may bring you great joy.

Look at Ezekiel, and you decide. God comes on a chariot with emerald wheels, sitting on a throne. He is in human form. (Ezekiel 1:4-26 NASB)

Is this Jesus? I always think, “Who else could it be?”

It’s exciting! Right?

What does this have to do with, “I am the good shepherd”?

If you look at what the Lord says in Ezekiel Chapter 34, it’s devoted to “the shepherds” of that day. They failed miserably, and the Lord says through Ezekiel how He will shepherd His people. (Ezekiel 34:11-16 NASB)

Then when Jesus speaks in the New Testament, He makes clear that He is not like those shepherds. “I am the good shepherd …” (John 10:11 NASB)

God knows we’ll get stuck in ditches, over and over again. We weren’t meant to go it alone. There must be those who speak for God, who are there to guide.

As I said last week, we’ve watched Roman Catholic priests stand against abortion. This is what God meant for His shepherds. To be the good shepherd.

African Methodist ministers said, “We will stand with Christ.” This is what God meant. Be the good shepherd.

But many have failed and will fail. People leave their churches, disappointed with those in charge of the flock. They choose to watch sermons from home. “I can worship God anywhere,” they say.

Can you take Communion at home?  God meant for us to be a part of the Body of Christ.

Look at the cross and see what Jesus did for you. Ask yourself if there is anything too great for you to do for Him.

Whatever the reason for leaving your church, go back. Seek out opportunities with additional churches and faith groups.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” And we are His sheep.

You weren’t meant to go it alone.


The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Join her Readers Group on Facebook for a daily, one-minute Bible study.

Copyright © 2022 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.