Baack to the Sheepfold

If you know me at all, you know I have a thing for sheep. What you may not know is that my sheep obsession started almost 30 years ago, in the summer of 1989! My sister, who has a thing for animals of any kind, was fostering endangered desert tortoises in her Arizona backyard at the time. My mom thought it’d be fun to start a turtle figurine collection for her. Not wanting to ignore her favorite (oldest) daughter, she asked me if I’d also like to collect something.

I thought for a moment before answering, “Sheep.” I’d never even been around actual sheep. But I’d rubbed shoulders with them on the pages of the Bible, and read a few books about the spiritual parallels between humans and sheep. (The most notable being “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller. It’s a classic; I highly recommend.) I’d grown rather fond of these wooly wanderers.

And so, I became known as a lover and collector of all things Sheep.

This spring, I revisited Psalm 23 with my Thursday night Bible study group, along with author Jennifer Rothschild as our insightful teacher. (I also highly recommend her study!) In preparation, I dusted off my sheep collection and enjoyed the memories they evoked as they decorated our gracious Bible study host’s home. I was excited to share my passion for sheep with the group.

Turns out I was the one most in need of a reminder that I was still just a humble sheep.

If you know sheep at all, you know that despite their thick wool coats, they are “a few threads short of a sweater,” if you know what I mean. They need a lot of help. They’re extremely high maintenance. (“Bless,” my British BFF Caroline would say about folks like these.)

Here are just a few reasons why sheep are so needy:

  • They are quickly disoriented. Unlike birds, dogs, and many other animals, sheep lack a homing device. No GPS included!
  • They are easily spooked. Once, on a field trip with my “Mums and Tots” group in England, I witnessed a whole group of sheep panic when some harmless preschoolers tossed a few bits of hay their way!
  • They are almost completely defenseless. No claws, no fangs in those jaws. No wonder they run!

That they need a shepherd is no surprise. But not just any shepherd. They need a good shepherd. One who will tirelessly devote himself to their intensive care.

I don’t really like being compared to a sheep. But (sheepishly) I must confess this threadbare sweater fits.

  • I can lose my spiritual bearings and forget my way “home.”
  • I am prone to panic, the smallest worries triggering an emotional stampede.
  • I often feel defenseless and vulnerable when under spiritual attack.

Thankfully, I am not a sheep without a shepherd.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NASB)

And my shepherd is a Good One. An expert in His field! (No pun intended.)

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11, NIV)

A good shepherd is, well, good at what he does. He genuinely cares for his sheep. He has a vested interest in the well-being of His flock, because his reputation is on the line. A thriving flock testifies to His watchful, faithful care. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe and sound.

In a recent blog post I shared that I am in need of some “soul care,” some restoration and repair. The starting point for this journey was admitting who I am: a sheep in need of a shepherd, and acknowledging who He is: the Good Shepherd, who will stop at nothing to provide for His sheep. My job? To not resist, but instead rest in His capable care.

I needed this reminder. Do you? Then repeat after me:

I am a sheep.

I have a Good Shepherd.

He is more than able, and willing, to take care of me.

I will rest in His loving care.

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2 thoughts on “Baack to the Sheepfold

  1. I love this, Shelley. Being very sheeplike myself, this was such a good reminder to keep myself ALWAYS in my Shepherd’s care!

    I wanted to comment on the post before this: I haven’t heard the term “compassion fatigue” but it’s so descriptive of what could also be called PTSD. That’s trauma that the military and first responders can suffer from as we all know. You, my friend, have been on the front lines as a first responder and I would truly thank you for your love and dedication to the unborn and their parents. You’ve put action to the command to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and mind and strength! Thank you, Shelley.

  2. Thank you so much Patti, for your kind words. It has been a joy to serve Him alongside you! Thank YOU for your faithful service!

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