John 10:11-18 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
It is lambing season on our little farm. We have already been blessed with two sets of twins and two singles this month, and we have one mama ewe who is holding on and holding out on us. I’m a bit worried that she will decide that today is the day, but I sure hope she holds on for a couple more days at least. The weather man is predicting that the temperature will drop to 16 degrees tonight. We are in for some freezing rain throughout the day today, and then we will have frozen temperatures for the next 24 hours. It looks like it is going to be a very cold week. Maybe that doesn’t sound cold to some of you, but to this Mississippi girl, that is C-O-L-D! Besides that, even though our animals are semi-used to the bipolar weather of Mississippi, they aren’t used to those kind of temperatures. Yes, they are in a nice big barn, but still, that’s cold!
Today, I woke up with my sheep on my mind. I began thinking back to the many times that we have had to bottle feed a baby lamb, and I’m quite thankful that I’m not bottle feeding one at the moment. It can be quite a task. When there are babies on the bottle, I have to roll out of bed at 4:30 instead of 5:00 am. It’s tough to get those little boogers to take a bottle at first. They know that the nipple is artificial and is nothing like their mama’s. So I work with the baby. I give a little bit of formula at a time. The lamb will play with the nipple, chew on the nipple, and try to suck for just a moment or two, and then it will become aggravated and start bucking and bouncing around on my thighs like a wild deer. So I have a little talk with the baby lamb, and I try again…and again…and again. When I don’t think the baby is getting enough, I feed the formula little by little with a syringe. Oh, the lamb will take some of it happily and readily, and then it will fight and stomp all over me. We do this 3 or 4 times a day, sometimes for several days, until the baby finally learns to latch on. By the time I finally get the baby lamb to suck the bottle correctly, I’ve got about 75 little black and blue hoof prints bruises on my legs. Why do I do this? It’s simple. I love the baby lambs, and I refuse to give up on them until I am sure that they have received enough formula, not enough to merely sustain them, but enough to keep the babies alive and well.
When I consider this, I realize how much this is like our great Shepherd caring for us. He is such a good, good Shepherd. He lets us try to do things our way. He allows us to struggle. We fight Him. We get aggravated with life. We gladly receive some of His blessings, but we refuse others. We fall, and He picks us back up. If we start slipping away, He offers us the love, nourishment, and the gift of eternal life, not merely enough to sustain us, but to keep us alive eternally. I can’t help but think about all the many times I fought Him, and I sadly consider how many little bruises I may have left on His heart. Yes, I know I’ve left a few bruises on the heart of my Savior over the years, and for that, I am eternally sorry. However, I am so very grateful that He has never given up on me. Just as I won’t give up on that baby lamb who needs me, Christ will never give up on me because He knows that I need Him so much. I rejoice knowing that He loves me, and that He will never give up on me!
Today, I am thankful for the good Shepherd. Do you know Him? Have you bruised His heart a time or two? Don’t let that separate you from the loving care of the good Shepherd. He is ready, willing, and able to nurse you back to a wonderful, loving relationship with Him! Call on the good Shepherd today!