The Challenges of Sheep Life
Today I’m thinking about my sheep-like qualities. Yes, it’s a bit humbling, but join me if you’d like. Mark 6:34 says “When he (Jesus) went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” Jesus had planned to take his disciples to a solitary place to recharge after an exhausting day of service. But, when He saw the huge crowd of needy people, He chose to address them, even if it meant the disciples had to wait.
Sheep are important animals. OK, they are not legendary for intelligence, but they have an important contribution to the world in being living creatures and having ever-growing wool. Let’s be honest, though, they are not going to live either well or long without a shepherd to care for them. Without a shepherd, basically the question is how, and how soon, will they die. Predators find them super tasty. They can easily get themselves into harmful and deadly places. Never heard of a sheep ER. Sheep mean well, but they wouldn’t stay in their herd without help. And yes, I am saying we are like them. Before we all take offense though, let’s remember that God made them the way they are. He knows every furry sheep by name and loves each one. Everything and everyone God has created is important and well-loved!
Jesus shepherds all people who want to join His flock. He leads us where we will find good grass and water. He doesn’t allow us to roam freely because it would be our death. He uses His staff to guide us and keep us from danger. He tends to us when we are hurt or sick. He is just plain a wonderful shepherd.
There is a great compliment to sheep in the Bible too. John 10:4 says “His sheep follow him because they know his voice.” When the sheep know the shepherd and are being lovingly attended to, they stick with him. Several times the Bible mentions that sheep will not follow a stranger. They know their master’s voice and will not listen to others. Not all creatures have this ability. Even seen a butterfly with allegiance to a person? Mice? Even cats can completely ignore us!
Would it be better to know and follow only our one shepherd’s voice or instead be a little more smart about a few general things? God is quite ingenious with that teeny little sheep brain! He gave them that one innate sense that keeps them where they can thrive…
know my shepherd’s voice.
What good would it be to make their one bit of intelligence be that they run from predators? They are too slow and would still get eaten. What about instincts to find water easily? Still eaten. Be able to shear their own wool? Eaten. Only want to be in a herd? Eaten. Have natural shuffleboard skills? Well, you get the point. They have a gift of knowing and following the one that loves them and would lay down their life for them. Pretty ingenious.
A couple problems – this scenario was not their idea and they don’t control it. We, too, need to rely on God to give us the ability to know and follow Him well. We must know the Good Shepherd and be following Him alone. We need the Shepherd to initiate that. Just latching on to the closest person does not ensure our safety.
God’s constantly speaking to us and using people and circumstances to point us His way.
People are like sheep but perhaps, sheep with headphones? Baa-aaa-aaad idea. 🙂 We can choose not to listen, can’t we? Sheep only prosper with a good shepherd. Thankfully we have the ultimate Good Shepherd. He does adore us and knows us intimately. He has laid down his life for us because He takes us and His role so seriously.
Unlike sheep, people have a lot of intelligence. But it can work against us. We fight God and push Him away so frequently. We tell Him we will follow Him when we completely understand His plan and like it. That’s where we are wrong – in this life we will never completely know the Shepherd’s mind or all that’s behind the scenes. We are made to trust Him. We need to study His Word and know His voice. We have the instinct to not follow the thief, so for heaven’s sake, let’s stop doing that!
Our biggest endeavor on this earth is to know our Shepherd and hear and obey His voice. Once we do, then we can help others do the same. It takes patience and humility and obedience. But like the sheep, it’s the one huge factor that keeps us alive and safe. Other things can be helpful to a point, but what does it matter if you are eaten? Develop your intelligence alone – eaten. Focus on your job and career? Eaten. Pour everything into having people think better of you? Eaten.
Know your Shepherd. Follow only Him. He has wonderful plans for you that you can’t even begin to imagine. Put all your efforts and hopes into knowing Him and He will order the rest of your life in a way you will love. God wants you because He made you and values you. Don’t spend your life being used for your wool by thieves with selfish purposes. You guessed it… in the end, eaten.