Of the many words the Father uses in the Scriptures to describe His people, one of the most common is “sheep.” Unlike most other species of animals that God made, sheep are vulnerable, innocent animals that lack defensive capabilities to fight off predators. They are completely reliant on their shepherd for protection. The Father is the greatest Shepherd of people, and there is no other like Him. To be lost means that sheep have meandered from the flock and its leader. It has taken another way that opens itself up to predatory attack. This behavior has always been the tendency of the children of God. After being guided by the Father, hearing His voice through His leaders, and seeing His great acts, they still repeatedly left the fold and made themselves targets of the enemy. To be lost means to start off on the right road but then turn and head in a completely different direction. You cannot get lost without first starting from a certain place you are familiar with.
The Father designed Eden as man’s dwelling place. He carefully considered everything that man would ever need in the garden. Eden was not a place of bare survival, but a place where man would know the Father, understand His glory, and produce after his kind—God in man, and man in God. Man started off in the right place, but when he allowed himself to be tempted and gave in to sin, he veered outside the instructions the Father had given him and became lost. It’s difficult to describe in words, but his fateful decision in the garden cost him his most valuable possession: a vital, intimate relationship with the Father. This reality has reverberated throughout every generation of humanity, creating a great divide between the Father and mankind. However, the most important assurance that any person can have is the knowledge that the Lamb of God was slain before the foundations of the world in order to restore man to his relationship with the Father; to return him His sheepfold, “The Family of God.”
Another characteristic of sheep is their ability to hear and know the distinct voice of the shepherd leading them. The Father has always raised up leaders to lead His people. Though this responsibility can be cumbersome based on the complaining and murmuring of people, however, the leader's responsibility is to lead people to hear and know the Father’s voice. Their ability to lead the people in the direction of the Father depends on the quality of the relationship that they themselves enjoy with the Father. If their relationship with Him is nominal, mediocre, or lukewarm, that is exactly what they will impart to the people they lead. Let us never forget that leaders too can get lost without a concrete relationship with the Father, the great Shepherd.
The Father’s clarion call to His people is that they will understand their proper place in Him. Outside of the Father, there is no rest. Without rest, people are enslaved to a subpar life of striving and performance that is far below what the Father intended or desires. He calls us to quickly return to the right place, which is in His presence, so that we can remember and reclaim our true identity, which is His image and likeness. To be led by the Father, our Shepherd, means that we hear, know, and follow His voice.