Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 28, 2017


The Shepherd patiently waits for the wayward


       Jesus used many metaphors to explain his identity. One of my favorites is that of the good shepherd. And that concept of Jesus being the Good Shepherd has inspired many beautiful songs.

       None is better than the one Bill Gaither gave us:


Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, for we need you to help us find our way

Gentle Shepherd come and feed us, for we need your strength from day to day

There’s no other we can turn to who can help us face another day

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, for we need you to help us find our way


       That says it all. We are like sheep. We need help! We cannot make it on our own. Without the help of the gentle Shepherd we are lost.

       There are times when we could not face another day except for the assurance that Christ is with us. Fed and nourished by his living Word, we find the strength to make it through the dark and lonely night of bewilderment and suffering.

       We all suffer but with the help of Christ we can suffer with hope, hope for a new day. Doris Sanford is an example. She tells about the day she had to drive her beloved foster child Jeremy to his new adoptive home. Doris had cared for Jeremy for five years. Giving him up was “like having surgery without anesthetic.”

       Too choked to speak, Doris turned on the car radio to distract herself and Jeremy from the pain. The song playing on the radio was Gaither’s “Gentle Shepherd.” It was too much. She had to stop the car on the side of the road while she and Jeremy sobbed. The words mirrored the cry of their hearts:


There’s no other we can turn to who can help us face another day.

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us, for we need you to help us find our way.


       Somehow Doris endured the pain and found the strength to bravely continue caring for other foster children. She credits the Good Shepherd for giving her the help she needed. He never fails to do that for those who trust him. Yet, sadly, some of us are slow to admit that, like dumb sheep, we need the Shepherd’s help.

       Unlike us, the Shepherd is patient, willing to wait patiently for us to ask him to show us the way. His patience seems limitless. For some of us, the Shepherd waits, and waits, and waits – until we finally give up trying to do it our way. Stubborn pride fosters the fallacious notion that we can say with Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way.”

       The turning point for some of us is that day we are finally overwhelmed by the Shepherd’s love for us. It dawns on us that we can never do anything to make Christ stop loving us. He loves us unconditionally. He wants us in his fold. He wants to know us so intimately that we can recognize his voice when he speaks to us in the midst of the deafening sounds of the world.

       We are, after all, what the Bible says we are: the sheep of his pasture. We did not crawl out of a swamp. He made us! And he made us knowing that we would need a shepherd who would love us enough to lay down his life for us to save us from our sins.

       How amazing – this Shepherd’s love! My life was radically changed when one day I heard him say to me, “Walter, I am the good shepherd. I know my own; I know you and you know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

       Makes me want to shout Hallelujah again! So every morning, I try to remember to say to him, “Gentle Shepherd, come and lead me, for I need you to help me find my way.”

       One of two things is true: either the Good Shepherd is guiding you today or he is patiently waiting for you to ask for his help. + + +