It had already happened back at the sheep farm (the real sheep farm): our first living, wool-coated parable—even before Husband said we’d learn a lot from sheep—even as we’d waited to choose three ewes, waited while their shepherd(ess) kept trying to corral enough flock for us to do it. Then later, at home, the oddest thing underlined the lesson. The oddest thing…
Her best roundup dog was back at the farmhouse, and her woolies kept spooking and fleeing.
Exasperated, she finally muttered, with crisp British disdain, “My sheep know my voice and follow me. They don’t like you. You’re strangers, so they run away from you!”
Husband and I exchanged a glance—and a giggle. Interesting, getting quoted at that way, if a bit demeaning. But the truth of her surprising John 10:5 reference was staring right at us—though from a distance—the whole flock of them! And the John 10:27 quote was about to be portrayed on “wide-screen.”
Suddenly the wiry little septuagenarian bolted forward, and, as we stood watching, gaping, she raced the entire field’s length (no small field, either!) to “come bye” herself, then with (number two) dog assistant doing his part, got the whole flock sheep-marching where she wanted, in magnificent single file. (I wish I had a photo. This is a wonder to behold.)
We made our selections, and brought them home.
But in months to follow, these three young ewes made clear that they regarded neither of us as master, protector, or even friend. At our approach they raced to furthest corner of barn pen or most distant fence in field.
Nor could we cajole, bribe, or force them into switching masters. We sweet-talked them whenever around them, addressed each by name, cut up apples (which they loved) and first tossed, then handed them over fences, finally only letting a sheep have some if she condescended to eating it from our hands. We even cornered them and made them let us pet them—repeatedly (as coached). None of this made them ours.
And something more, that odd thing I wondered about but never verified till now…
The first few weeks, out in pasture, they all turned and faced the same direction—stood like statues. Why? No wind blew steady from any point, sunlight lay even-spread over meadow. They were not gazing back down the last curve of road that brought them here. So why did all keep facing that same way?
I couldn’t help wondering: Were they compass-pointing toward “home,” toward their beloved shepherdess?
Now I check maps, follow a crow’s flight—and stand awed. Yes, she lives almost directly southwest from our place, and which way were her sheep setting their faces like flint? You guessed it.
Lesson from “Dummies”?
So, already, a large silent lesson from “dumb” sheep, a beautiful example in committed faithfulness to master. To “own no other Master,” as the old hymn says.
“[His sheep] will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). ”My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
“The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; [But]… My people do not consider” (Is 1:3).
May I continually consider.
[Reposted from the Archives]
If then, you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is... Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth,
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him…
(Col 3:1-2; Heb 12:2; 1 Pet 1:8)