the deep longing in our hearts

The planning started about one month out. I would ponder and prepare. I would lay different combinations on my bed.

That yellow shirt is cute. Oh, but it would bring out the tawny coloring of my skin. Try again. I like that ruffle blouse. Oh, but I don’t think is fashionable anymore. Try again. I wonder if I have the money to go to the store and buy something new? That black tank looked cool. Except, hmmm… I don’t think I have the body for it. Argghh… Try again.

Picking an outfit for the first day of school was a big deal.

It was the chance to make an impression. To show everyone how much cooler I had gotten in the few months we had been apart from one another. To maybe, just maybe, get noticed.

I wanted so badly to get noticed.

I still do.

What used to translate into obsessing over outfits now turns into monitoring facebook likes and blog comments. Do people care about me? Am I funny enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I good enough?

I want validation. I want to know that I am liked.

There is a deeper longing, too. A desire for community. For friends who ask me how I am doing. For a husband who perceives that I have had a rough day and steps in to help. For people in my life who celebrate and weep with me, because they know the details.

I think this desire is part of being human. We strive for validation. We want to know that someone out there cares. We want to be known.

Jesus says we are known.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:14-15

It is a shepherd’s job to notice the sheep. A shepherd spends all day in the fields with them. He watches for any who wander off, so he can bring them back to the flock. He looks for any who might be hurt, so he can care for them. He makes sure his sheep have enough to eat. He looks out for their safety.

That is why shepherds and shepherding is so often used as a visual picture in the Bible. It was a career the Israelites understood, and a living analogy of life with God.

But with this statement, Jesus takes that analogy to a new level. Not only is Jesus a shepherd who notices His sheep, He is a shepherd who knows His sheep. He knows His sheep just as the Father knows Him.

Jesus and the Father are one. They know each other in the most intimate way possible.

Jesus knows not only the version of ourselves that we present to the world, He knows our true selves. Our unspoken desires. Our secret sins. Our deepest needs. Our unmet potential. Jesus knows us. The real us.

And He responds to that knowledge with action. He lays down His life for us sheep. Knowing the good and the bad, the spoken and the unspoken, Jesus dies for us.

We are known and we are loved.

That is what Jesus saying “I am the Good Shepherd” reveals to me. What does it reveal to you?

Read the post before this one, How far would you go for love?