by Sheri Schofield
Peculiar things tend to happen in our country church when our senior pastor goes on vacation. This time, the assistant pastor was in charge. His ministry, which is mainly to a local rest home, is to a different congregation. When he stood to give announcements, he said gently, “This week we have had a number of deaths among us.”
I felt instant alarm. I had heard nothing of this! I looked around to make sure all my friends were there.
The pastor said, “Dan Smith* passed away this week.”
Dan, who was sitting not six feet away from him, shot up in his seat, shook his head vigorously and said, “No, I didn’t!”
We all roared with laughter! Needless to say, confusion reigned for a few minutes. Communion juice and bread were passed out willy-nilly, and the ushers with the offering plates stood helplessly in front, one waving his plate in the air, not sure when to pass it out. It was most unusual. Fortunately, Dan has a good sense of humor!
Our senior pastor is now back from vacation. We are his flock. If he had been handed that announcement, he would have known it wasn’t true. He would have looked immediately for the family involved, and he would have seen Dan standing with them.
This reminds me of what Jesus said: “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 . . . My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:14, 15, 10, NLT). With our Good Shepherd, we go way beyond mere recognition! He blesses us, too.
What is this rich and satisfying life that Jesus wants to give us? Is it a life of wealth and ease? No. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23-25, NLT). He also told his disciples of coming persecution because of their faith, then ended by saying, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (Luke 16:33, NLT).
I do not think Jesus was speaking only of the peace and exhilaration we will have with him in eternity when he said he wants to give us a rich and satisfying life. I think he was speaking of the relationship we can have right now, if we keep our souls melded with his throughout our days. We will inevitably suffer some loss and grief in this life. But if our hearts have found our life and hope in Jesus, we will be inwardly rich and satisfied… even now.
Consider what Moses wrote: “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” (Psalm 90:1, NLT).
When I return home from a vacation, I feel a sense of relaxation and belonging. I have my own pillow, my own bed, and I know where everything is. I relax and feel comfortable. This is the feeling Jesus wants to give us when we belong to him. With Jesus, our hearts are rich and satisfied, no matter what external perils we suffer. Abiding in our Good Shepherd, we are at peace. We walk into his arms, and we are home.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13 NASB
*Not his real name
About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!
Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.
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