jesus, the shepherd who leads from behind

I posted that music video with Zach Galifinakis at the behest of Tommy Hyde, who swears I look like a skinny version of him. You can be the judge:

So I was thinking recently that, although I have no clue what the shepherding practices of ancient Palestine were, I do know that in New Zealand, they way you guide a sheep (or a flock of sheep) is to get behind them and make loud noises, urging them in a certain direction by throwing your voice and raising your arms.

Basically, you’re aiming to scare the sheep into running away from you. “Controlled fleeing,” one might call it.

This practice introduces some interesting implications for how we might conceive of Jesus as shepherding us. Sometimes it seems as though He is hiding behind us, tacitly pushing in a direction He has foreordained–but which is nevertheless difficult to discern as such because we like to see signposts in front of us, like policemen directing traffic. We also like assurance that we have gone down the right path, like my relief at seeing the mileage sign for the next town I’m headed toward.

God doesn’t always lead us this way. I’m not saying He uses scare tactics like most NZ stockmen. But I think He does speak to us in that “still, small voice” in the back of our minds, the silencing of which is the only confirmation that we’ve done the “will of God.” (It’s interesting to note that the sheep only know that they’ve accomplished the shepherd’s wishes by the simple fact that he’s not still yelling at their rear–in other words, when the threat is gone.)

I’m in Nelson for one more night, then I head over to Canvastown to visit Russell again. Then the ferry, then Auckland, then Tassie… then HOME.

Peace, friends.

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