My dad raises sheep and goats (fitting for a pastor, I know). They are all cared for but there is one among his flock that is so persistently affectionate you can’t help but like her. Every time you walk outside she leaves the flock, runs to the gate, stands up on it, and reaches as far out as she can toward you. Most times when she does this, though we had no plans of going over there originally, you just can help but go see her. Of corse, once we get there, we also can’t help but spoil her a little also.
It’s a good lesson in learning how to get close to, and gain favor with God, our heavenly shepherd. When we make the effort to draw close to Him, coming as close as we humanly can, He will see us standing there, set apart from the others desiring and reaching for His presence and He will come the rest of the way to meet us. Do this and I promise you that He will also spoil you a bit when He gets there.
Besides her constant efforts to be close to us she is also very well behaved. Unlike most of the flock she doesn’t try to cross the fence, wonder off, or stray from our leading. When we are in the field she is “always” at our side. Because of this, my mom has decided to move her, at times, from the pasture to her yard to help keep the fences and fruit trees cleared of weeds.
The rest of the flock may see her residing so close to the safety of the shepherd, where he can hear her every cry as she feast on tender shoots while doing her job helping manage and maintain my father’s house. I’m sure some of them are even a bit jealous or envious of her position. However, she is not their because of unfair favoritism but rather because of righteous favor. The difference being that favoritism is given, but favor is earned. She earned her place in the shepherd’s favor, both in his service and in his blessings. Rather in rain, storm, snow, or shine, in times of plenty and in times of trial, sickness, and scarcity she was unwavering. No matter what, she chose to be set apart from all the rest, to be in our presence at every opportunity, following us where ever we went. She put forth every effort to draw close to us and in doing so, caused us to draw close to her. She has won our favor, and in the same manna we can win God’s.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6
“The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” – Psalms 14:2
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts.” – James 4:8
“For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” – Psalms 5:12
“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.” – Psalms 4:3