My family love watching Australian football (AFL) and we are pretty passionate about our team.

My husband decided this week that AFL must be God’s game because they “shepherd” in Australian football.

Shepherding is a technique used in AFL to prevent a player from the opposing side gaining possession of the ball, or from tackling a teammate.

Shepherding is a legal form of obstruction and can occur even if a player is not in possession of the ball. Normally, shepherding is carried out by a player using their body to stop their opponent from reaching a contest, which is usually achieved by rigid outstretched arms and using body weight between the players.

Another form of shepherding is bumping, which is when a player uses their hip and shoulder to bump another player, not using their arm. This technique can be carried out by anyone against any opponent as long as they are within five meters of the ball, and is normally a hard physical hit.

The more I think of it the more it sounds like Jesus and how He guides, protects, defends and helps us as our shepherd. (Psalm 23)

He made each us with a purpose and a plan, and He wants us to run with it. I guess it’s a bit like “picking up a ball” and running with it to reach our goal. God promises that He will lead, guide, protect and have our “backs”. He says that He will command His angels to keep us in all our ways, and that He will watch over and coming and our going.

King David in the bible is talked about earlier in his life as a shepherd tending his herds out in the fields. He watched over those sheep, making sure they had food to eat, water to drink and safety. When a lion and a bear came to attack any of his herd David defended them and he tells how he killed both the lion and the bear. God calls David a man after His own heart, and chose this young “shepherd” boy to be the next King of Israel. (1 Samuel 17:34)

Jesus is like the guy on the football field protecting his teammate. When a player has the ball they are protected by their team. Their job is to prevent the opposing side gaining possession of the ball by tackling or “taking them out”. The one “shepherding” uses their body to stop the opponent from reaching their team mate with the ball.

Jesus shepherds like that guy on the field. He used His body to protect us from the wicked schemes of our opponent the devil. He put His own body on the line when He went to the Cross for us.

Now He says to us run; run your race. Pick up the ball – pick up your purpose, and your vision and get out there on the field of life. He promises He will be there to “shepherd us”, to obstruct any plan of the enemy when he tried to oppose us, or attempts to gain possession of our vision, our God given gifts, abilities and purpose. In actual fact Jesus says He and the angels (our other team mates) will bump – “hip and shoulder” anyone who attempts to come up against us. They have our backs, either side, and they even go before us.

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone”. (Psalm 91:11-12)

We have a lot of help. Our “shepherd” is no wimp and He’s not one to be messed with. He also says His power and presence resides within each one of us if we invite Him to, making us someone our opponent will think twice about tackling!

Today make a decision to keep running with your ball – your purpose. Don’t look to the left or the right but straight ahead. Shake off the things that so easily entangle us, the sin that tries to hold us up. Hold that ball firmly in your hands, and go for it. You have the best “shepherd,” and His mighty helpers the angels as your teammates running along with you, and they don’t mess around when the other side is coming at you. They will use every tactic and strategy in the book to bump them right out of your path, getting you to where you need to be.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14)

Therefore we also since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you are the best shepherd I could ever have. You not only lead and guide me, but you and the angels back me up every step of the way. Help me to pick up my “ball” – my purpose in you and run with it. In Jesus Name Amen.