Another oddity. It happened years later, both astonishing me and underlining the truth of sheep loyalty to shepherd like our first flock-of-three displayed (to their original shepherd(ess), not to us!)
Through the years and the expanding of flock came little ones, raised from wee lamblings on our pastures, in the safety of our pens and feedings. Entirely different was their attitude to us, their response to our presence.
These sheep were truly ours, heart and soul. When we appeared, they came running — toward us, never away like those first sheep! So compliant and sweet. They couldn’t get close enough to the shepherd. He was their heart’s delight.
But the day came (still more years later), when they had to go elsewhere. Ministries called that excluded meadows of grazing ovines. And rather than sell them at auction, we gave them away to a stable family with sheep and pastures, people who would appreciate their fine wool and care for the aging woolies no one else would want. (That was the deal: take the oldies and care for them in their retirement, and you get the younger ones with the fine merino wool, and might I get first dibs at buying some of it for spinning?)
Then one morning I “bumped into him,” at a breakfast restaurant. I wouldn’t have even known who he was if my breakfast companion hadn’t introduced him. Then his name rang loud memory. It was his wife that I had known, had only fleetingly seen him the day they came to get the sheep and take them all to their pastures.
So of course I asked. How were the sheep?
He apologized. “We couldn’t keep them,” he said. “They kept jumping fence!”
“The big ones,” I said, assuming.
“No, the merinos,” he answered. In fact, they were even a bad influence on his own normally reliable sheep! So off they went to other owners with wider fields and more secure fences, too strong and high to jump.
I was aghast! It couldn’t be! Our sweet compliant little Hannah and Flossie, and those other merinos?
But yes, it was true. They knew their shepherd and his voice. They’d followed him. But they would have no part with “strangers” (John 10:5,27). Just like our first flock of three.
“Ask the beasts and they will teach you” (Job 12:7).