John 10:2-4 – The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (NIV)
John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (NIV)
Last fall marked my five-year-old daughter's second year playing soccer. Her abilities improved significantly over the previous year when she preferred to hold hands with a couple of little friends, chatting as they moved up and down the field, the ball simply being an annoying interruption to a good conversation. At the end of that season, though, she was absolutely delighted when all the players received a trophy at the year-end barbecue. She admired that trophy every day, and had a terrific sense of accomplishment; it did wonders for her self-confidence.
Leah had a great coach again this past year — a man who gave of his time to teach these little children. They would learn from him during the practices and the games, as he called out instructions to them and helped them to learn the game. She was especially looking forward to the barbecue again, knowing that she would receive another trophy. The league coordinator asked each coach to call each player by name to come to the front to receive the individual trophies. It was so wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of those young boys and girls as they heard their names called, and then received what for many of them was the best part of the whole soccer season.
It made me think of today's scripture verses, in which we read that Jesus knows each of His own by name, and that He gave Himself for us, and now leads us, teaches us, trains us and guides us. And I thought, too, of our Prize: not the material "things" that we are so enamoured of, but the Lord Jesus Himself! How great is that!
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You know us, and You know what we are in the process of becoming — saints who will spend eternity with You. What a Prize! Lord, we worship You, praise You and thank You. Amen.