Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Business of Shepherding

From the familiar 23rd Psalm we learn of God's shepherding ways over the sheep.  Perhaps you do not see yourself as one of the sheep, but you are. We all are. Scripture also describes us as "the sheep of his pasture."

Both of my grandfathers were farmers. Their land was known as a dry-land farm, meaning there were no modern irrigation systems to water the land and make crops grow, and you quickly became a person of prayer, praying for rain. 

Most farmers in that day would also have a cow or a few pigs to help with feeding the farmer's family.  One of my grandfathers also ran a dairy so that farm had many cows.  I think I have told you before about showing up at his farm one day and learning my grandfather had obtained a few sheep. All the grandkids were surprised to see them and they became the "hit of the farm" with all the young folks. 

There was one visit to the farm when my grandfather was trying to get the sheep into the safety of the fenced barnyard for the night.  I know that must have been frustrating because a simple honk of the horn on  his pickup truck would bring the cows running to the barn.  But not the sheep.

That's when I learned the lesson about sheep.  They aren't very intelligent!  In fact, leading those sheep to the barn brought out the desire of the sheep to scatter and run away.  My grandfather had a cow dog that would help him round up cows, but the dog was frustrated, too, when he couldn't seem to get the sheep to cooperate.  That was the only time I remember my grandfather using language, aimed at those few sheep, I had never heard him use before. 

I remember telling my grandfather, "God doesn't like it when we talk like that."  He replied, "God never did try to run sheep!"  I didn't give it much thought then, but now I know how wrong he was. If we are the sheep of God's pasture, then he is quite experienced at running sheep. 

Whether we admit it or not, we sheep disappoint and frustrate our shepherd, too.  Knowing  the real safety of shelter which is found only in God, we often choose to go in the opposite direction.  We choose our own way which is contrary to the way God is trying to lead us.

In his book, Fearless,  Max Lucado writes, "Maybe one reason why the angels first appeared to shepherds in order to announce the birth of the Messiah is that their Boss delights in identifying Himself as a shepherd."

I hope you can remember that.  Remember the Lord is your Shepherd and he longs for you to let him lead.

It's a lesson for each of us during this special time of the year. The more we turn loose of the shepherding business ourselves, the more the real Shepherd can lead us.

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