Yesterday, my hubby and I took the dogs for their usual walk down our lovely country road. On our walks, as I’ve said in past blog posts, I like trying to get the sheep in the fields to come over to me. Partly because I just want to say hi and pet them – what can I say, I like animals! And partly because it’s become a sort of challenge for me now to persuade them to come over. Sheep are a lot more intelligent than people realise, and as we know, they can distinguish between human voices. They know and respond to their shepherd’s voice and will run in the opposite direction from a voice they don’t recognise.
Yesterday I saw one of the farmers has added an alpaca 🦙 to his flock.
I wondered whether the alpaca would behave the same way as the sheep do if I tried to call it over.
I looked down at where I was standing at noticed dandelion flowers. The field, although filled with rich green grass, had no dandelions! So I picked a handful and held them out, making what I hoped were coaxing noises.
The alpaca looked at me and then turned her head the other way, choosing to completely blank me.
All the sheep that had been grazing and lying down in the cool grass were now on their feet, watching me, alert and ready to make a run for it as usual.
Then, incredibly, one ewe, a bigger, perhaps braver one, stared at the dandelions in my hand. I could see the temptation in her eyes, the longing for those sweet dandelions. She hesitated, took a step forward, stopped. I held the dandelions out a little bit further. She started walking slowly towards me, her lamb close to her side. Another sheep started following her, then another and another. Then she was at the fence, nibbling the dandelions right out of my hand!
Suddenly I had seven ewes and five lambs all waiting for their share.
This little encounter with my woolly neighbours made me think.
We can learn so much about our relationship with God through observing sheep, which is why there are so many Biblical references to God as our Shepherd.. (to read My Sheep Hear My Voice click highlighted text)
These were some of my thoughts from yesterday:
Everything We Need
‘The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.’
Those sheep have everything they need in their field. Rich green grass and wild plants.
In the same way, God, our Shepherd, supplies everything we need. In fact, He Himself is everything we need. And He has promised to “supply all your needs from his glorious riches” Philippians 4:19
But sheep love dandelions and there weren’t any in the field.
Sometimes we have a lack mentality. We’ve seen in Psalm 23:1 that because the Lord is our Shepherd, we have all that we need. We lack nothing. Yet there are still times when we feel we lack. I do, I must confess. There are times I look at others and they seem to ‘have it all’.
When we slip into this way of thinking we wonder if we were ‘behind the door’ when the blessings were being poured out. I’m not only talking about material goods, but spiritual blessing too, as in spiritual gifts, healing, growth, encounter with God. We see the “dandelions” on the other side of the fence and suddenly the sweet green grass that the Lord has given us seems not enough.
Dazzled by the Dandelions
Those sheep are usually alert. They know I’m not their shepherd. Usually when I approach the fence, even if I try to copy the whistling that the farmer does, they can’t be fooled. They get as far away from me as they can, to the other end of the field.
We have an enemy, Satan who will try to do everything he can to lure you away from your relationship with God. Obviously he isn’t going to be able to tempt you with something you are not interested in, or something you have plenty of already. But if he can trick you into feeling lack, well he’s more than halfway there.
That ewe suddenly didn’t care anymore about what her instincts were telling her, all she wanted was those dandelions. She just had to have them!
Something else that stood out to me was how her breakaway from the flock spread and infected others, so that they followed her.
The rest of the flock, the ones who had followed their God given instincts not to trust this stranger who was not their shepherd. stood still, together. They had got up from wherever they had been lying, left their grazing places, calling out to each other and stood together as one flock.
In a similar way, the sheep in the church who are tempted by the ‘dandelions’ outside of the fence – those who leave our churches – very often ‘infect’ others. Most people who walk away from their church family do so with unresolved issues. They then share those issues with anyone who will listen, resulting in further conflict and heartache, sometimes even church splits.
When I hear Christians say things like, “I don’t need to go to church, I can just worship God on my own”, or “I’m done with church”, I think of how my neighbour’s sheep stand together when facing a potential predator. We don’t go to church, we are the church. We need each other. We stand together, work together, support and encourage one another – there is no such thing as a ‘solo Christian’, it just cannot work.
If you’re struggling today, with temptation, fear, anxiety, doubts – any issues that are robbing you of those green pastures of peace that you were walking in – do what my neighbour’s sheep do; they call out to each other and start gathering together. You are part of a flock, not a lone sheep.
Prayer: Shepherd of my soul, when the liar comes with his dandelions, trying to tell me there’s so much I’m missing out on – that I need this, and need that and if I could just have that other thing everything would be just perfect, thank you that you have equipped me with everything I need to stand strong in your strength, thank you for my church family where my roots are firmly planted and that together in you we are even stronger.
Thank you Lord for the perimeter fence of your love and faithfulness around me – that you hem me in behind and before, for my protection, provision and blessing.
“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5