Last weekend, while in Middle Tennessee at a Keepers at Home Retreat, some of the ladies were outside studying the second month of Digging Deep “The Crown,” when they heard the bleating of sheep. Our study this month is from Psalm 23 and is about the Shepherd and his sheep. A few hours later, I found myself knocking on the door of the shepherd to ask him if the diggers at this retreat could come see his sheep.
He was a very nice gentleman whose wife has been through a very dark battle with cancer. He was extremely open and and answered all of our questions about the sheep as he patiently led us through the gate to the barnyard and pasture that was indeed his sheepfold. He had five lambs that were born only the day before.
The sheepdog was a large Great Pyrenees and he was extremely protective of the sheep. He herded them away from the intruders (us) and stood between them and us. Knowing that we’d love to have a picture with his sheep, the shepherd got a bucket of feed, rattled it and called the sheep to the barn. His call was very loud and shrill….”Coyeeeeeah!” The sheep answered back” “Maa-aa-aahhhh” in unison each time the shepherd made the familiar call. As the dog led them toward the shepherd and the barn, they followed. But the dog stopped short of bringing the flock past our little group. We stood in the gap between the calling shepherd and the flock. They were not coming to eat until the “threatening intruders” were outside the fence.
We expressed our gratitude, left some jam and relish that one of the sweet sisters made, sent a Digging Deep book to his wife and drove away with the sweet security in our souls that we are the sheep of the GOOD Shepherd. John 10 and Psalm 23 were all up in this sweet visit!
I just want to be a sheep, Baa!
Lessons from this fold:
- God’s Providence is sometimes fairly obvious. The diggers were out there studying sheep and they heard the bleating in a nearby sheepfold. This is not an everyday occurrence in this part of the world.
- Christians are given opportunities around every bend in the road. Around that bend was a shepherd who needed the prayers we promised for his struggling wife. That apple butter and relish that my sister brought to give the women would end up being used for another purpose, too, and, perhaps, even open a door. That shepherd needs THE Shepherd.
- Sometimes there are obstacles between the sheep and the shepherd. Are there people or things in between you and the Good Shepherd?
- The sheep do hear the Shepherd’s voice. We could have stood there all day and called. They were not heading that way until they heard the familiar voice. Then the response was automatic. Are you responding to the Shepherd’s voice?
- Those sheep stuck close together. In the face of intruders, they seemed to understand their need to stick close to one another. Do Christians find strength and comfort in one another when we face the intrusion of outside threats?
- This shepherd was an expert, both a shepherd and a sheep judge, putting 16,000 miles on his sheep trailer in one year. There were obvious ways we could tell this: the immediate response of the sheep to his voice, the medical attention that was evident on one of the sheep that had been partially sheared to remove pests, the cleanliness and proper ID tagging of the animals, the neatness of the barn and pasture. Is our Shepherd interested in our spiritual health and purity?