Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

March 14, 2010

The Sheep Next Door

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

We lived in San Angelo, Texas. It is big sheep country in the surrounding area. In fact, our next door neighbor had a pet sheep in their backyard. You learn a lot about sheep that way! But most of what I know about sheep comes from conversations. And it is amazing how some sheep experts differ on what a sheep will do and not do.  

By nature, sheep are gregarious. They flock together. It is rare that you see them alone. That may be why the sheep next door was a little strange! The one characteristic about sheep that I most remember is that they are virtually defenseless. They are not like cats and dogs with eyes set close together and a brain designed to sense the world about.  Their eyes are set widely apart, and with the lack of ability to see as clearly, they are easy prey for attackers. They have no claws or teeth that could be weapons.  Their speed is not like most animals either.  Their best defense is to stick toegether.  They have the tendency to turn their head in against another sheep as if they can’t be seen since they cannot then see the enemy.  I have been told also, but I cannot give witness to it, that a sheep will run around in a circle till it drops when it gets scared. It has no sense of direction, especially when frightened.   

Sheep supposedly have the smallest brain versus body weight of any animal. Some have labeled sheep as dumb. They, likewise, are described as not thinking for themselves. If one sheep should go through a fence, the others in the flock will follow. Those following do not care where they are going. They will even leave good pasture and go into a devastated area, and stay there unless led or driven elsewhere. With no sense of direction, ability to seek good pasture, and unable to defend themselves, biblical students get an insight to Isaiah 53:6. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray . . . . “ 

Some other interesting facts: If they should roll on their backs, they cannot get up. They will die if they do not get help to get back on their feet. If a wolf should come nudge the sheep in that position, the sheep is helpless. He cannot muster enough muscle energy even in fear to get up. Sheep can also eat themselves sick if they stay in one spot too long. Now, this is about the time we begin to feel sorry for sheep and want to nurture and care for them, right?   

That becomes a perfect lead for a thought. If sheep are helpless, if they have no sense of direction, if they will simply follow the flock, even if it leads to destruction, then I know why they must have a shepherd! Sheep must have someone who can lead, guide, protect, and care for them.  

Sheep feel comfortable with a shepherd.  They know the shepherd, even if they have been separated.  The sheep does not forget the shepherd.  When the shepherd is close, they are relaxed.  They allow the shepherd to come close to them.  The shepherd talks often to the sheep.  They know his voice and it calms them and soothes them in time of stress and worry. 

I know some of you are ahead of me. You are already thinking on Psalm 23. I cannot avoid sharing with you a thought about the shepherd in that Psalm. The shepherd will lead in such a way that the sheep will follow without any fear, no matter what the terrain or the enemy that might be. The shepherd will care for the sheep by providing for them, and healing their wounds. Sheep can feel that protection when the shepherd has his rod and staff. The rod may be a short club as a weapon against the wolves. He will have a staff so that he can prod the sheep toward the right way or pull the sheep to safety. He will lie down at the entrance of the fold at night to guard and protect the sheep. The shepherd will lead them to have all they will need in food and rest. They are safe and secure as they follow the shepherd.   And the voice of the shepherd brings a sense of peace and comfort to them. 

Do we need spiritual application? It is there. We have the Shepherd who will do much more for us than an earthly shepherd. Read Psalm 23 with this knowledge of the sheep and shepherd. I believe you will be blessed. And today, our Shepherd is Jesus Christ.  

From the Gospel of John, Chapter 10: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (verse 11) “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (verse 14) “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (verse 27,28)  






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