In my previous post I described some insights I had on my farm stay last week of us joining ourselves to His flock and asking or expecting Him to play the role in our lives which He has promised to do.
I think that is the essence of the many psalms in which David called out to God to be in a shepherding type of role over him. In this post I want to share more deeply on an experience I had while mustering the sheep and some thoughts about it.
I feel that God has SO MUCH to offer us, but our self-confidence and I can do it attitude keeps us in the shallow end of the pool, we can’t become deeply reliant on Him, because we have no prior experience of His ability to lead or provide or protect.
But that is exactly how it is in a relationship between a sheep and the shepherd. The sheep cannot appreciate at all the world of a shepherd.
Here is a nifty bible study on Shepherds in the bible.
In NZ sheep aren’t even smart enough to stop Keas (destructive parrots) from landing on their backs and pecking through their skin to eat their livers!
No rolling over, no running away, no going to another sheep for help, no running to humans for help, no brushing against a tree.
Wow. Imagine how helpless such an animal is!
And now consider that Jesus Christ described us as equally helpless to the things around us.
I for one knew I needed a Savior, but now even more so, I know I need a Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11
I need a Shepherd who guards the doorway with His own physical body, I need a Shepherd who guides me with His crook – I may not even know where we are going, I may not know why, I may not even perceive His change of direction, I just find myself walking that way. And He doesn’t leave
The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. – John 10:12-13
I need a Shepherd who uses His staff to beat off trouble makers – while at the same time I pray that He will later go to them and tend their wounds, heal them, love them, reveal Himself to them, restore their finances and marriages and businesses… but first, beat them off and away from me with His staff.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. – Ps 23:4
William Barclay from Jesus As They Saw Him: He [the shepherd] had his rod and his staff. The staff was a long crooked stick. Always the shepherd walked with it in his hand, and, when a sheep showed signs of straying, he would stretch out and pull it back with the crook. He carried the rod at his belt. It was a stout piece of wood, perhaps three feet long, with a lump of wood the size of an orange at one end of it. With this the shepherd fought the battles of the flock, using it to drive off wild beasts and to defend the flock against the robbers who would steal the sheep. More quotes from famous Christians about the rod and staff
After my experiences, I know that I am in need of a Shepherd. As someone said to me, “you are in the middle of something you don’t understand” and now 18 months later, no one has ever taken the time to explain it to me. I am in fact ignorant, just like those sheep which I mustered. I need a Shepherd! 🙂
At first I was mustering by riding a motor bike and almost shoving them along from behind. But it was hard work.
The mums and lambs were at the back and because of the noise of the bike the babies couldn’t hear the baa of the mums, the mums maybe couldn’t hear the lambs? So they kept stopping to reconnect. Up front the sheep seemed to get spooked by the bushes either side and constantly stopped walking, bunching everyone up, so Id have to rev and get them going. And the mums kept stopping and smelling their lambs. Plus some would panic and run into the bushes on the side and we’d have to get them out.
Does it sound like hot frustrating work? Yes it was. Then my hands got tired of clenching the handlebars of the bike and I got off, gave it to someone else, who went back to the fields to search for sheep who had been left behind – and there is a parable in that too! 🙂
With me on foot, and two two less vehicle and three less people, I began to talk to the sheep. “Come on! Lets go! Keep moving!” and do on. Well. What a difference! 🙂
There is no way that they knew my voice, nor do they understand English. But they walked and walked and walked and never stopped walking! It was so easy! Amazing! I just kept telling them to go forward and they did, so smoothly!!
Ok, you might be thinking about motor bike noises and all the reasons and symbolism. I’m not focused on that at all.
They clearly respond to the sound of a voice, even if they can’t understand English. It made all the difference and things went smoothly. Sheep don’t perceive our leadership, it is us who anticipates how to muster them. We guide, they just keep walking and eating.
The lambs often mistook the tut-tut-tut of the motorbike to be the baa-baa-baa of their mum and they would leave her to follow behind the bike. But the mum would just stand their baa-ing until the lamb works out what is mum and what is not, and then return to her.
We are the same. All we like sheep have gone astray. We get confused, we follow after doctrines of men, we panic and run into bushes away from the flock and away from the Shepherd.
Its ok. We all do it. But I’ve seen something new now. I see that I cannot overcome my limitations, I’m a sheep! It is He who must use His crook to gently guide me. It is He who must never leave me or forsake me and lay down His life for me. It is He who must use His staff to get the baddies away from me and keep them away. I cannot do any of this myself, I can only partly achieve limited results through my best efforts.
I am a very smart, courageous, driving, determined person and that natural ability and personal charisma blinded me to the fact that in the context of this world and the vast things that go on it it – naturally and spiritually – that in spite of my personal ability, even at my maximum effort, I am still in need of a Shepherd.
And most frustratingly, when led by a Shepherd and protected and fed, it may all be unseen, because the Shepherd sees the danger from far away, sees the good pasture from far away, and leads me beside still waters and to good pasture… all without me necessarily knowing!
My main job is to do what is on front of me with gusto, with commitment and energy – and to use my choice to stay in His flock, wherever He may position me, to choose to have Him Shepherd me. Because the things I face are far too big for a sheep to perceive or know how to deal with.
I often like to say, when people ask me about my faith, I boil it down to this simple statement: “I’m with Him” and I pretend to point to Jesus Christ, in faith imagining that He is there, nearby, never leaving or forsaking me, His crook and staff comforting me.
I no longer feel I need to control, I’m with Him. I don’t need to figure out the way, I’m with Him. I trust Him to guide me, protect me, lead me to the right pastures, to the right people, away from wrong people, position me in the right group, in the right role within that group – and so much many more things which a simple sheep like me cannot even behin to perceive and cope with.
Yeah, I’m with Him. Phew. Finally.
And as if to confirm and encourage me, when I first wrote about this two days ago (?!) a pigeon (dove?) flew over my head and its wings flapped and I heard them so close, on either side of my ears. Must have been a BIG pigeon!? And I felt something run down over me from my head down. The thing is… no pigeon flew towards me or away from me. Right away I looked around in the restaurant, there was no pigeon inside.
I think there is something in these two posts (this one and the previous one) which we should deeply consider.
Will you join me? Of your own choice, join yourself in prayer to His flock and under His Shepherd role over you. Under shepherds in churches come and go, but He has promised to be there with His crook and staff while you sleep and as you go about you day blissfully ignorant of His leading and His efforts around you and for you.
Yeah, I’m with Him 🙂
For more posts related to our need for Shepherding, please read these:
- Stages of change towards countries seeking the Shepherd – 10 24 10
- My role… pastor/shepherd – 03 31 10
- Different metaphors for our relationship with Jesus Christ – 09 09 10
- Governors of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Florida prayed – and received! – 07 19 10
- During the tournament… there was no crime – Jacob Zuma – 07 14 10
- And the miracle keeps on… but a warning – 05 27 10
- Manufacturing for South Africa and other prophecies – one year on! – 05 18 10
- My sheep hear my voice – 03 09 09
- The good Shepherd – 03 07 09