We don’t have any sheep now, but we do have a couple of cows. When we are out in the field we learn about them and their nuances. The cows will usually come when we call, especially if we are holding a feed bucket. They understand what fences are and are even willing to get close to strangers if there is a fence between to protect both themselves and the people. If you look them in the eye, you can’t get as close as when you are spraying weeds with your back turned. Then you might turn and notice that they are a couple of feet behind you, wondering what you are doing. They won’t do this for just anyone; but with those they know, they feel safe enough to follow.
We did have an encounter with a man who was a good shepherd up in Washington one time. We were riding along on a mountain road and saw ahead that sheep were crossing the trail and had been crossing for some time, since they already stretched on for a quarter mile or so. We waited there for ten minutes, as the sheep continued to cross, before the shepherd’s dogs arrived. They were protective and kept us at a distance. Soon the shepherd came along, leading the last 200 hundred old and lame ewes. With his limited English and my broken Spanish, we talked for a while. He shared that he was taking the sheep to a different pasture and to where there was some good water. He carried a rifle and shared with some pride that he had even shot a cougar a while back. I asked how many sheep he had, and he replied that every time he tries to count them he falls asleep. (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.) There were about 1800 in the flock. It was lonely work; but you could see that he had the flock’s best interest at heart, and they felt comfortable with him.
Oh! How great the feeling to have a shepherd to lead and guide us, not just once, but on a daily basis…someone who loves us and has our best interest at heart even when we can’t see it. John 10 tells us, “The sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all his own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from Him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus calls to us; and so often we even recognize His voice, but we want to follow our own way or even a stranger’s voice. Most of my frustrations and failures in life have come from not following the Good Shepherd. He is there waiting for me to return back into the fold, but He is not just waiting; he lays down His life for the sheep.
Lord, help me to know your voice more each day and to learn and choose to follow you.
Written by Ed Barker