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Like Sheep?! - September 2014

Two summers ago my husband and kids became really excited about the idea of having sheep.  Our home is situated on ideal land for them.  That was the only reason that I thought supported the idea, but their enthusiasm won over.  One afternoon they brought home nine sheep, and the learning curve began.
 
The Bible speaks often of sheep, and we as Christians are referred to as sheep, with our Lord Jesus described as our shepherd.  This never bothered me too much -- sheep are cute, peaceful creatures.  But once I experienced sheep first-hand, I became uncomfortable being called one!
 
They are not smart!
 
  • When my husband spreads their corn out for them on their feeding trough in the winter, they step all over each other trying to get the feed.  Every day he spreads out corn all over the trough, where each of the sheep can easily eat their fill, but they never learn that they do not need to trample each other to get what they want.
  • My husband has built them two warm shelters, filled with straw to keep them warm and dry.  We live in Minnesota, and it is cold, very cold.  Do the sheep cozy in the shelters?  No, they usually stand out in the cold and snow.
  • They are always seeking greener pastures.   My husband moves them from pasture to pasture . . . but even when they are in a pasture with loads of green grass, they will look out past the fence and decide to try it out.  And when one goes, they all go!  Then, when you try to get them back in the pasture, they act like they have no idea how to get through the fence.
 
So combine the fact that I did not look forward to getting sheep in the first place with the fact that they are troublesome and dumb, and you see why I began to wonder, “Lord, why are you calling me a sheep?”
 
Here is what I have learned.  Sheep only seem stupid when I compare them to something other than sheep.  It is ridiculous to expect them to behave or understand the world as I do.  Humans are far superior in intellect and reasoning, and that is why sheep look to humans for care and protection.  When my husband walks out to their pasture, they baa, and baa, and baa.  They know him.  They know his voice.  They even know his car when he makes his way down our driveway!  They know he gives them good things.   
 
So as much as I dislike thinking I’m not smart, I see the connection between myself and sheep.  I am completely unable to understand all the ways of my Shepherd.  I do things that are stupid from His perspective.  I do not wait patiently for Him to give me what I need.  I do not always seek the safety and comfort He makes available to me.  I seek greener pastures.  
 
There are so very many unknowns for the families of Inheritance of Hope and those who love and care for them.  We don’t know what the next treatment course will be like.  We don’t know if tomorrow will be a "good day" or one that throws all plans completely askew.  We don’t know how each family member will feel at different stages of the illness.  We don’t know a lot of things we wish we knew.  We feel dumb in some ways.
 
So we may worry and over-think things  . . . What should I do?  What should I say?  How should I feel?  What is the best thing for now?
 
Trust your Shepherd.  He knows everything.  EVERY.  THING.  He knows that you feel great love for one another.  And that is what He asks of us.  Do not worry.  Do not fear.  There is not a "right" thing for you to be doing or saying at each moment.  There may be times of deep sadness; there may be times of "normalcy."  Families that face a terminal illness are under a great deal of stress.  As friends and family, we all are here to love them well . . . not with love we have to give, but with the love of our Shepherd, poured through us all over them!
 
Take a deep breath, and slowly consider Psalm 23 in this way . . .
 

The Lord is your shepherd, you lack nothing.

   He makes you lie down in green pastures,

He leads you beside quiet waters,

   He refreshes your soul.

He guides you along the right paths

   for His name’s sake.

Even though you walk

   through the darkest valley,

You will fear no evil,

   for He is with you;

His rod and His staff,

   they comfort you.

He prepares a table before you

   in the presence of your enemies.

He anoints your head with oil;

   your cup overflows.

Surely His goodness and love will follow you

   all the days of your life,

and you will dwell in the house of the Lord.