Working with animals has its joys and frustrations.
- There’s the dairy cow who always misbehaves when it’s her turn to be milked. She has a variety of options available to her.
- There is a calf who steadfastly resists your best efforts to teach it to drink from a bucket.
- There’s that steer who sees a fence as a challenge and an opportunity.
- There is a small goat for whom the grass is always greener on the other and the bottom wire is never quite low enough!
Working with animals does have its joys too – but it’s the frustrations that tend to linger in the memory! Jesus once told a story about a sheep that went missing; one of a trilogy of stories about lost things. (See Luke 15)
- A man had two sons. When the younger one “went prodigal” his father effectively lost 50% of his children. We can understand him being upset.
- A woman loses one of a valuable set of ten coins. 10% is a significant loss.
- A shepherd has one hundred sheep and one of them disappears. Oh well, it could have been worse! 1% is an acceptable loss, given the nature of farming. Besides, some of the ewes are about ready to lamb …
Of course, that isn’t how the shepherd responded. “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4
How will the shepherd respond when he finally tracks down his recalcitrant sheep? Perhaps a sharp smack with his staff will teach it not to be such a nuisance in the future. At the very least, a stern talking to would seem to be in order. (Neither of these options would achieve anything, anyway. Sheep have hard heads and woolly backs and are notoriously unteachable!)
“…when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:5 – 7
And there’s a good chance that darn sheep will go missing again the next day, too!
Points to Ponder:
- Praise God for his love and compassion for those who stray
- God loves the world; he also loves individuals. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
- As sheep who have been found/prodigals who have returned, how do we respond to those who are lost (or those who muck up) today?
- How can I better reflect the character and actions of Jesus today?
Song: The Lord’s My Shepherd by Stuart Townend – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0