Finding Restoration in the Good Shepherd

By Dr. Jack Graham

Psalm 23:1–3 (ESV) 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 paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

There’s a final promise that awaits us at the place of peace. Not only does our Good Shepherd make us lie down in green pastures to provide us rest and lead us beside still waters to provide us refreshment, He provides restoration for anyone who seeks it (verse 3).

The Wandering Sheep

In Psalm 23, Jesus Christ is portrayed as a shepherd, one who is wholly devoted to the care of His sheep. And if there is one thing that sheep need, it’s a dose of devoted care. Sheep are dirty and dumb, but more significant than that, they are easily distracted.

Sheep can be grazing right in the middle of the most pristine plot of pasture, and then forsake that fertile ground in hopes of finding something better. Determined to get to that “greener grass,” they’ll wander away from their flock, their shepherd, and their security. Often it happens gradually, as they munch just a clump of grass at a time. One little lamb lingers longer at lunch, and before you know it, he’s over the hill eating way outside of camp. Night falls, and encroaching wolves start tasting mutton stew.

The late American humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a book titled The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank. If, like me, you’ve ever gone searching for whatever “greener thing” you craved, then you know those words ring a little too true. We graze just like that sheep. We linger a little too long, we fall into easy distraction, and before we know it, we’ve become easy prey for our awaiting enemy.

The Seeking Shepherd

It’s into that reality that God shows up, for when we, like sheep, go astray—as everyone does, according to Isaiah 53:6—our Good Shepherd, in His magnificent grace, seeks us and finds us and leads us back to camp.

For many—sheep and people like you and me—being dragged all the way back to camp is enough to convince us to stay. But sometimes, a sheep develops a habit of going astray. The shepherd will bring in his flock at the close of the day, then realize as he counts his sheep that one has gone missing.

So, the good shepherd who willingly risks life and limb for his sheep, will light a lantern, grab his staff, and retrace the day’s steps until he finally finds that lost little lamb. He calls for the lamb by name, hoists the lamb onto his shoulders, and carries him all the way back to the flock.

The Restoring Shepherd

But if the lamb doesn’t get the message, the shepherd will take more drastic measures. Sometimes, for the good of the wandering sheep, the shepherd will grip the lamb’s leg with both hands and break it right in two. The shepherd will then ease the lamb onto its back, cradle it close to his chest, and carry it back to camp.

Once there, the shepherd will mend the bone, fasten a splint onto the broken leg, and carry the sheep around his neck until the injury is perfectly healed. It is a painful lesson, but it is also a restoring lesson for the sheep.

This is the picture of restoration that we are to carry with us at all times. Jesus promises to restore not just our broken bones, but also our broken souls. After all, Jesus was broken for us, so that we might know an eternity with Him without brokenness.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Dr. Jack Graham serves as Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and most dynamic churches in the country. Follow him on Twitter @jackngraham.

This article was originally published in Breaking Free from Stress by Dr. Jack Graham. If you are interested in receiving a free copy of  Breaking Free From Stress, please contact Jack Raymond at jraymond@prestonwood.org.

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