I am reminded by Max Lucado in A Gentle Thunder that cowboys have nothing on shepherds. While the cowbody is an American hero who rides off into the sunset, the shepherd is the hero of Biblical and heavenly proportions.
Like the cowboy, the shepherd spends lots of lonely time with animals under the sun and the stars. BUT there are huge differences between cowboys and shepherds. Here are some of Max Lucado's observations:
- The shepherd loves his sheep; the cowboy doesn't even want to love his cows.
- The cowboy drives his cows to the slaughter house; the shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures.
- The cowboy likes Black Angus steak and hamburger; the shepherd wants wool from the sheep.
- The herd has many cowboys; the flock has only one shepherd. Remember that Jesus talks about the sheep hear the voice of their shepherd and come at his call.
- The shepherd knows the name of every lamb, ewe and ram; the cowboy knows the other cowboys.
Jesus never called Himself the Good Cowboy. He calls Himself the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep (that would be you and me) by name and lays down his life for his sheep. The Good Shepherd protects, provides and takes care of His sheep. The shepherd literally sleeps in the door of the sheepfold. Danger had to come across his body to get to the sheep.
We live in a dangerous world where it is easy to walk off the cliff or be under attack by some savage beast. Only the Good Shepherd is there to pull us back from danger and to even put His own body in the path of danger for you and me! The Good Shepherd NEVER leads us to the slaughter house. He leads us home - according to Psalm 23 - where we will live with the Good Shepherd forever. The only catch is He HAS to be our Good Shepherd! My Good Shepherd trumps the cowboy any day of the week! And I'm so glad!