Being My Own Man vs. Being in The Shepherd’s Care
The guys in my jail Bible discussion group were looking at what life outside of jail might be like as they followed Jesus. After weeks of finding out about God’s grace in the Bible, they were looking forward to the upside of that life. They’d had enough of the cycle of get high/get in trouble/get locked up, and they wanted what God wanted for them – being the fathers their kids needed, being able to keep promises and commitments, having thought processes that weren’t clouded by drugs and alcohol, etc. But James had some reservations. He felt safe enough in our group to speak honestly without being judged, so he decided to go for it.
“Smoking meth keeps getting me into trouble, like coming to jail. I see that. But meth has given me some insights and perspectives that seem valuable, too. I look at that, and I look at people who don’t get high, hold down regular jobs, own houses, and have families and all that, and I can’t see me living that way. I’ve always thought of people who live that way as sheep, and I don’t think I can be a sheep.”
James’s honesty started some honest discussion. The other guys understood what James was saying about being “sheep” and didn’t condemn him for it, but they all said they wanted what Jesus had in mind for them. That made me think of something: I said, “You know, Jesus sure likes sheep. He’s the Good Shepherd!”
Now James was really thinking about it. (There’s nothing like a grace-filled, judgment-free space to give the mind some room to explore and discover.) He finally said, “I’ve been doing things my way, and it really hasn’t been working out that great. Maybe it’s time I found out what it’s like to have a Shepherd.”