When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)
Sometimes God surprises you in life. It happened to me today in my morning sermon at New Day worship. We were “listening” for the voice of our Good Shepherd as our sermon activity, walking around the worship space, gathering sheep who “listened” to Jesus in a variety of ways. We gathered a disciple … and a couple of servants … and a friend … each of whom listened to Jesus, the Good Shepherd in a different ways. Then we invited a disciple who was courageous and another whose love was so wide it encompassed the whole world and we walked around the worship space a bit more.Then when I turned to ask the small group where we might find sheep who bring us music, I suddenly realized that I no longer had just five or six “sheep” joining me as we walked around and listened for the voice of Jesus calling us to be followers. We had fifteen or twenty sheep filling our no longer “little flock.” I faultered at first, because I hadn’t prepared for a larger group. So we decided to just gather at the front of the worship space and remind ourselves of the variety of gifts represented by each sheep in our little herd, and the additional gifts and talents that were part of the entire congregation.
Isn’t that just like our abundant God who surprises us with more than we expect or need? I envisioned a few of us scraggly sheep walking around as a visual sermon illustration for the words I wanted to speak. And God provided a living “flock” of sheep that spoke a more powerful sermon just by being who they were — followers of Jesus … disciples … those who heard the call of the Good Shepherd in their lives.
It is so easy to view life through the lens of scarcity. Our world regularly proclaims to us that every resource available to us is limited and inadequate to fill the desires we have. And so we hoard … and we stockpile … and we covet. We have developed an entire industry built upon hoarding and scarcity. We call it the “collectibles market” where we save things we neither need nor will use, for the sole purpose in inflating their value. And all the while God invites to us to live life and live it abundantly. God invites us to consider the healthy balance between hoarding and rationing … between wasting and using things wisely. It is called the life of a steward. It is the call to “manage” the riches of God’s world in ways that allow us to live lives of joy and sustenance without denying the same to others.
In your prayer life and times of reflection this week, may God surprise you with moments in which the abundance of the world showers you with grace. May you find yourself overwhelmed by experiences that communicate the extravagant joy God has sewn into the fabric of creation. And in your unexpected joy created by a God whose love and light is always deeper and brighter than we can imagine … remember, that God is just getting started.