My understanding is that shepherds will move their flocks of sheep in order to find good pastures on which they can feed. As winter approaches, the shepherd takes the sheep to a lower altitude. When spring is in the air, the flocks head to higher ground. Getting to these new pastures may require a great expenditure of physical energy. Once in a new location, however, the sheep will stay in a certain valley or on the side of a mountain for a period of time - feeding, resting, giving birth to new lambs and growing stronger. The sheep aren't capable of making these decisions - when to move and where to go. The shepherd is the only one wise enough to chart out the paths and to know what the sheep need to thrive and stay healthy. Staying by a mountain lake for their entire lives is not the best thing for sheep.
For my husband and I, the past two years have been filled with continual travels to very different pastures. At various times, the journey has been frightening, delightful, inconvenient, exhausting, and exhilarating. There have been months where we were just resting by the mountain lake, absorbing the warmth of the sun and resting. But then we were off to new horizons. We still do not know what the Shepherd's plan is. And that's the whole point. We don't need to. Our contentment comes, not in our situation or our surroundings, but in being with the Shepherd.
Imagine a parent telling a child,
We're going on a long trip. There will be exciting times, difficult moments, confusing situations and interesting people. But don't worry or be afraid. I will be with you at every moment. You will never be out of my sight or care at any time. I will show you amazing and beautiful things, and you will grow strong and experience great joy. Just take my hand and walk with me.
What child would refuse and invitation like that?