Stop Barking and Listen
By Karen Moreland of Independence, MO, USA
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. —John 10:14–15 NRSV
We got our dog Rudy from a shelter. He likes to bark. One morning I was getting ready to leave and decided to let Rudy out in our backyard. Unfortunately, the neighbors beside us and behind us let their dogs out at the same time. Where the four corners of our yards met, the dogs stood charging and barking at one another.
I called out to Rudy, but he ignored me. I stepped outside and called again. He stopped barking and turned his head toward me, then resumed barking. I walked halfway to the fence calling him continuously. He stopped, started towards me, but turned again to bark. Rudy was determined to stand his ground to the end.
Finally I picked up the 40-pound dog and carried him back to the house. Thoughts and images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd flashed into my mind. Sunday school lessons from long ago returned. I remembered a picture of Jesus leaving the 99 sheep behind, leaning over the mountainside, and reaching out with his long shepherd crook to rescue a small lamb from the cliff’s edge. I imagined him rejoicing as he carried the lamb back to the fold.
Imagine how God rejoices when we set aside our defiant natures, reopen our hearts, and return to God and the community who loves us.
Prayer for Peace
Tender Shepherd, what patience you have with us, your wayward sheep. We have not yet achieved Christ’s peace in our world. Please don’t give up on us.
Spiritual Practice: Making Responsible Choices
Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. The practice of discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.
Today, God, I will hiss less and purr more.