Shepherd

I’ve heard countless sermons and Sunday School lessons about the Shepherd and the sheep. But coming face to face with an actual shepherd and his tiny newborn lambs yesterday put those sermons and lessons and scriptures into a whole new perspective for me.

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I don’t know why I got it into my head that I wanted to visit a sheep farm and take the “lambing tour” offered at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, New Jersey. I’m here visiting my family and I was looking for something different to do. So we piled in the car and drove the 45 minutes to a gorgeous part of my home state, passing by pastures and farms and peaceful countryside.

The young “shepherd” in charge of the “lambing” took us on a tour of the barn where the newborn lambs were kept. You’d think he’d be tired of telling these tour groups the same information day after day after day. But it was like it was his first day. He was excited and passionate and there was no doubt he knew his sheep.

He told us of sleepless nights while the lambs were being born. He told us of having to watch each one very closely to make sure they were getting the milk they needed to gain strength and grow. He knew the weakest ones. He knew the stronger ones. He explained about needing to protect them from foxes and bears and other threats when they weren’t in the safety of the barn.

And as I heard the love and care and compassion in his voice and as I held a wriggling little four day old lamb in my arms, I thought about Jesus and those Sunday School lessons.

There’s a reason why He’s called the Shepherd. I love that He’ll never get tired of watching out for me, holding me, caring about what will make me grow. He knows when I’m weak, and when I’m strong and when I need protecting.

And I know I need to listen for His voice.

That real-life shepherd probably had no idea I was having my own personal moment with God there in that lambing barn. But I bet my Shepherd was looking down on this particular sheep of His – and smiling.

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations. Psalm 79:14

Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:3

As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. Ezekiel 34:12