Sheep are individuals. A shepherd knows his or her sheep. Jesus knows my name and yours.
Are you there, Lord? I don’t know what to do. Am I trying to make a decision You have not called me to?
I count my old records–forty ewes, ten rams, 400 lambs in nineteen years–all different, nearly all with names. Peaches was a quiet Dorset/Finn cross, nothing like the Targhee, Amelia. Amelia ran if I came anywhere near her.
Am I running from what You have called me to? Help me stay.
Tammy let me get closer before she spooked. Apple would do anything for food. Peaches came readily to me, calm and trusting. I ran my hands through her fleece and latched her newborn lambs to nurse. Help me come to You in trust. Help me wait.
Sheep are social animals. They remember faces. They form cliques.
Bruisers like Lightning and Blackberry stuck together. They charged the feeder like bouncers, bashing others in their way. Sometimes they’d overeat and get bellyaches in all their four stomachs. Help me not covet what You have not given.
Apple and Peaches, who were more neighborly sheep, stuck together, too. They shoved for food, but in a companionable way. They ate and chewed cud contentedly.
Cause me to be satisfied and nourished by the abundance You give.
Timid Dolly and Tammy found only tough stems left when the bruisers finished. I fed these ewes by hand in secret–the most tender leaves to make up for loss. Help me not fear. Feed me in secret. Forgive my want of lesser things.
Sheep have no natural defenses beyond flocking or fleeing.
Bruisers, neighbors, and timids hung out in different parts of the pasture. But when threatened, all the groups flocked together facing out–rams on the edges, lambs in the middle. Predators divide and scatter flocks to seek the loners.
Help me seek community for prayer and counsel.
Sheep prefer to be led, not driven.
Effective leadership is based on trust. I moved slowly among my sheep, speaking softly so they could learn my voice. When I called, they came running for grain, hay, water, apples, and new pastures.
Sometimes they didn’t like what I gave them–shots, shearing, or worm medicine. But it was all for their good. Sometimes the neighbor’s sheep came to the fence. I didn’t feed my neighbor’s sheep, or treat their ailments. My voice was of no use to them.
One day, when Peaches was huge with twins, she lay down, rolled into a hollow, and got stuck on her back with her legs in the air and her twin-filled belly pinned to the ground on either side, like saddlebags on a horse. This might sound funny, but it isn’t.
With her big lambs inside her and all her four stomachs pressing on her lungs, Peaches couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t make the tiniest cry for help. Her eyes rolled back in her head. But the Great Good Shepherd knew she was in trouble. Somehow, He helped me know.
I looked out the upstairs window and saw Peaches. I pulled my boots on and leapt down the stairs. I ran across the pasture. I tugged Peaches’ legs and rolled the heavy ewe onto her feet. She opened her eyes. They were brown and soft and scared. But she was safe.
Her two lambs and four stomachs hung away from her lungs. She huffed the fresh air in and out; all the wind scented with clover and plum blossoms. Her heart thudded. I rubbed her chest and spoke softly. Her eyes lost their terror. Her breathing slowed.
She waddled away happily to graze with the flock. A week later, her lambs came, strong and healthy. I knew God could bring His plans to fruition in my life, too. And in yours.
Thank You, Lord, for the story of Peaches. Help me remember her when I’m senseless with worry, when I’m confused and fall in holes. Please set me on my feet. Help me to follow only Your voice. Lead me on Your path, only on Your path, that I might accomplish what You made me for.