Thursday, October 16, 2008

Notes from the Flock

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me -- John 10:27.

The Bible frequently refers to God and Jesus as a Shepherd and to the believers as sheep. To most of us, this is a cute little analogy, but to a people that were very familiar with sheep and shepherding, this comparison held a much more profound significance.

You see, sheep are not so very smart. In fact, they really are just outright dumb. They pretty much don't do really well when trying to take care of themselves.

Did you know that sheep have no self-defence mechanism? That's right...they are truly at the mercy of any type of predator. That's what the shepherd does. Shepherds don't get a lot of sleep. Their light dozing is often interrupted by any unusual sounds that they may encounter. They are very watchful and are often perched high above the herd to have a perspective of the entire flock. Just like our Father.

Did you know that sheep will eat an area completely dry? They will eat and eat and eat the grass until there is none left...even down to the roots so that none can grow back. If left to themselves, they will exhaust all means to survive and will not be able to find their way to more food. They will inadvertently destroy themselves and the entire flock because they don't know how to make it to the greener pastures alone. Just like us.

Did you know that sheep can recognize their shepherds voice? It's true. Shepherds talk to their sheep. This make look a little insane to the outsider, but when sheep get intermingled with another flock, a shepherd can call his flock and they will come to his voice. How do they know his voice? He speaks. And they listen.

However, there are a few times when sheep do not listen to the voice of their shepherd. Why? Sometimes they are new to the flock, sometimes they have not been listening to him along the way, and sometimes they are just stubborn. Do you know what shepherds do to get their sheep to listen to their voice? Ready for this one? They will break one of its legs. It's true. Now, PETA, don't go after shepherds just yet...keep reading. It is for their own good...seriously. Once the sheep has a broken leg, the shepherd commits himself to carrying that sheep everywhere they go and feeding it himself. He also nurses the sheep's wound back to health. The whole time the shepherd is cradling that sheep, he is talking to the to one. By the time the sheep is healthy and ready to rejoin the flock, it knows that shepherd's voice and is much more likely to listen. You see, it's had personal time with the shepherd and become very intimate with that shepherd's voice. It has felt the warmth of that shepherd's arms and the love in his voice. It has been fed by the hand of the shepherd. Trust is established, and love is secured. But before the sheep came to this conclusion, it had to have a leg broken. Now the sheep will listen to the shepherd, keeping itself out of danger and not mingling with the wrong herd.

So although those broken legs hurt, being wrapped in the arms of the Shepherd is truly a bonding experience like no other. And in the end, we do recognize His voice more clearly. We are less likely to get involved in the wrong flock. We are less likely to fall down a mountainside that the Shepherd was warning us about.

We hear His voice and we know Him and follow Him.

Photo credit: Reza Vaziri

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kaye, some great thoughts. Reminds me of a study I did once by Kay Arthur. Thanks for sharing!