I freely admit it – I am not a country girl or a fan of farms. They look beautiful in pictures, but I don’t typically care for the dirt and smells that accompany farm animals. As a lifelong Christian, I have read Jesus’ parables about sheep many times. My frame of reference for sheep has been the cute, nonmoving sheep that you often see in picture books or displayed in church.
A few years ago, I found myself in northern Scotland, far from civilization and in the heart of sheep country. It was just like in the movies – a car surrounded by sheep in a road, unable to move. For days, I spent time observing sheep up close. These fluffy little animals were nothing like the sheep holding a flag in church!
They ran through fence holes, jumped over things, and ran out into the road. I was able to observe that these animals are not bright. They panic. They forget where they come from. They run into things. They don’t remember how to get back into their field, even though they just came through a hole. They don’t move when you honk at them. They don’t move when you yell. They panic, looking for care and guidance from their shepherd.
While a frustrating time, it was truly an eye-opening experience. Suddenly, the Bible stories and parables came to life. Jesus is our shepherd, and we are His hungry, forgetful, frightened sheep.
When Jesus tells Peter three times to feed His sheep, it is a beautiful reminder of provision for us. A good shepherd would not leave his flock without care. Jesus was telling Peter, and all of us, to care for His flock. Don’t leave sheep behind just because they don’t remember how to get home. Don’t leave them hungry and lost in the road. Guide them. Feed them. Forgive them. Share His love. After all, He does that for us all the time.
Dear Jesus, thank You for being a loving shepherd who daily feeds me, even when I run and make silly mistakes. Help me see others the way You see them, and to care for them with Your love.
Contributed by Amanda Cole