Our Hunger for the Shepherd

I opened my email and saw a message from the chancellor of my graduate school.  My stomach tightens. This is not good. I open the email to find a short message instructing me to rewrite several of my papers.  Detonation! My kids refer to this as Dad turning into his “hulk-self.” I wanted revenge, retribution—a slow painful process of payback against my imaginary abuser.

Who doesn’t hunger and thirst to be seen, known, accepted, cared for, protected, guided, and comforted. We all long to return to the Garden, to be with the perfect parent. None of us, however, grows up in the ideal home or has perfect parents. Abraham Maslow recognized the developmental nature of our being, beginning with our physiological need for air, water, food, shelter, sleep and sex.  Without these fundamentals we cannot survive.  Although we might exist for a short while with our physical needs met, without having safety and security we will inevitably perish at the mercy of a predator.

With our physical and safety needs satisfied, now we can begin to address our hunger for love and belonging. We can’t stay alive without the basics, yet, what would be our quality of life if we never know love. Levels one and two in Maslow’s hierarchy addresses our drive to survive. Level three and above deal with our hunger to thrive and ultimately actualize ourselves.  We have been created for abundance—loads of love, nourishment, satisfaction, meaning, and joy.  We are designed to cultivate our gifts and abilities in the service of living extraordinary lives.

At the same time, Jesus says we are sheep.  We are contingent beings, even though we are all but limitlessly gifted; we were created to ”be”—to be fully in relationship with God, each other and ourselves. God has made us to be a magnificent reflection of Himself; capable and competent yet dependent on Him as well as each other. We can survive alone, yet, we only will thrive in shared community with one another.

Jesus claimed to be the good shepherd—the whole, complete and paramount parent of all his sheep. He sees us accurately and is attuned to our every need. He also desires mutuality, as the scriptures say, that his sheep know him intimately. In fact, it is written in the scriptures that Jesus was made in every way like us and tempted in all things as we are. He is us, created us, knows us, intercedes for us, and will never abandon us.

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Published: 01.05.2010 / 08:40 PM

Category: Spiritual Growth

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