Clinging To The Familiar

by Tim Hall
Rich new experiences only come to those willing to walk by faith.
sheep-1.jpg“Hasn’t this been a wonderful pasture?” noted Charlie to one of the other sheep with him. “Yes, it has been excellent,” answered Ralph, “but it’s getting pretty bare. It’s hard to find a mouthful after being here so long.” “Well, I’m not leaving this spot,” responded Charlie. “You never know what you’re going to run into out there. We might run into a pack of wolves, or there might not be any grass at all. No, I’ll stay right here.”
Before you question this writer’s sanity for personifying sheep, remember that God’s people are often compared to these animals. A more apt comparison would be hard to find. Sheep are not known for looking into the distance. As their attention focuses on the tufts of grass before them, they lose sight of where they are. Soon they become separated from the flock and from the shepherd. They’re not smart enough to find their way back home.
One of the great heroes of faith is Abraham. This description of him is classic: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8, NKJV).
Was it easy for Abraham to obey this command? God was asking him to leave behind everything that was familiar and journey toward an unknown destination. Had he acted as many do, choosing to cling to familiar surroundings and routines, he would never have enjoyed the thrill of knowing God and receiving rich promises.
The church faces a similar challenge. The name alerts us to this reality: “church” means “those who have been called out”. Christ calls us to leave much that is familiar about our old lives and venture into new territory. Yes, wolves lurk in that lonely terrain and pastures are concealed in the darkness. Many who hear the call decide that it’s not worth the risk. They remain just as they are as Jesus disappears over the horizon.
Where is our faith? Do we not believe the words of the good shepherd? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27,28). Jesus gives the promise that those who leave behind the familiar to follow him “… will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
There is no safer place to be than in the flock of the Lord! No, we can’t see the path ahead; we don’t know the dangers that await us. But the shepherd does. As long as we stay close to him, we’ll do quite well.
Loosen your grip on the familiar. Pay attention to the calling of the shepherd. Be assured that wherever he leads you will be better than where you are now.

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