Isaiah 53:6 KJV — All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Unless you’ve actually raised sheep, these words really don’t hold the same understanding.
As a young teen, my parents bought a very run down property in the country, in another state, and took this city girl and my sister, to a whole new way of life.
I didn’t have a clue about anything which I would need to know, but God is gracious and He teaches.
We didn’t have proper fencing, so moving the flock was always an adventure.
(In case your wondering why we were moving them, it’s because sheep need a rotation of pasture or the fields die back and the sheep don’t have good forage. In fact there is a whole science to field rotation and proper care so that the animals get the nutrition they need.)
We didn’t have a sheep dog.
We didn’t have four-wheelers.
We had my mom, my sister, and me.
The system was one person, no body liked this job because it meant getting trampled, had the large bucket of grain.
That person was responsible to call the sheep, wait for most of them to gather (there’s always at least a few who refuse to come when called), then open the gate, and head toward the new field.
The other people are in the field and ready to “encourage” all the sheep to follow the one with the bucket.
(Sheep startle very easily and you have to be careful how you handle them, as a sheep can literally die from fright.)
As the person leading, you have to continue to call the sheep and shake the bucket.
Even with calling and shaking some sheep will bolt out the gate, nearly knocking down the person opening it, and run as fast as they can.
They have no sense of what they are doing, they just know the gate is open and they are “free!”.
Others will follow the one calling only until they spy a weedy plant growing along the road.
They’ll stop and block the road with their bodies because the weedy tough thing isn’t a quick grab a mouthful and keep walking, which causes others behind them to stop and loose sight of the one calling.
Those who are stopped will then become confused and loudly protest their distress, at times turning around to head back and other times running back and forth along the road.
Some sheep will be late coming to the gate and when they see it open will bolt as fast as they can.
They will over take and pass the one leading only to find themselves lost, without any others around them.
This can be terrifying for the sheep, who will then bolt back down the way they just came.
They will even pass the one leading the sheep and will return to the field if it were not for the two people who follow at the far back.
Their job is to get the sheep out of the field and close the gate.
Then to follow the one calling the sheep and encourage those who are lost to follow the leader.
But there were some sheep who would come when called.
They knew the person calling had fed them before and would feed them again.
They knew there’s grain in the bucket and they never take their eyes off the leader.
They knew they need what the leader has, they want what the leader has and they follow, no matter what.
When the sheep are all in the new field the grain is set out, normally more than one bucket worth, for we always had more in the new field waiting.
Of course they would push and shove each other, like we didn’t know how much grain was required to supply each one the proper amount.
Afterwards, they’d start grazing, as if they never noticed the new field was lusher, more abundant than the old.
I can easily see myself in those sheep.
How many times did I hear the Lord call and instead of keeping my eyes fixed on Him, my excitement sent me dashing ahead only to find I’d taken His call and applied my own ideas and plans to the execution of it?
It always left me confused and lost as to where to go next.
How many times have I felt “comfortable” unwilling to make a change, not wanting to hed the call, not willing to leave what I was used to?
Only to find that being slow to respond to Him and having to experience the consequences of not obeying were actually hindering what He had in store.
I still reached the new place, it still held all He had for me, but I brought along regret from my disobedience.
I’ve prayed and will continue to pray that God helps me to be the sheep whose eyes are on the Shepherd.
That I will stop wasting my time, energy, and strength in “bolting” in every direction, but instead to listen for His voice, to answer His call, and to always remain beside the One who calls me to follow.
John 10:27 NKJV — “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for loving us so much more than anyone can possibly love. Thank You for creating sheep, that we might see a small portion of ourselves in them. Lord, thank You for teaching me so much about Your patient endurance and Your faithfulness. Thank You that You are caring for me and all I need to do is follow. Thank You for Your provision, Your salvation, and Your grace. I love You, Jesus. Amen.