BY KENT BUSH
Sheep are dumb.
They will eat themselves to death if someone doesn’t stop them. Honestly though, I’ve been at a Golden Corral a few times when I wondered if we were going to need a good shepherd to use his crook to pull some folks away from the roast beef.
I saw a modern day shepherd one night when I was going to cover a small-school basketball game for my newspaper.
In more than 45 years of life I had never seen a scene like this. I looked on the side of the road and saw a young man walking two sheep down the shoulder of the highway.
I think it is an Oklahoma law that you have to change lanes to allow livestock plenty of room to roam. I had no problem making room for a young man and his sheep.
They seemed rather content to be enjoying the evening breeze. You could say they had a great “relationsheep.” You probably wouldn’t, but you could.
I couldn’t help but think what would happen if something changed that peaceful scene. What if a dog barked at them or something else spooked one of them? What if one stayed with him and the other bolted into the southbound lanes of the highway?
What would this young shepherd do?
David was a shepherd boy before he was a king. When he faced off against Goliath, he told King Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them.”
Shepherds don’t mess around.
That’s how you know angels are pretty spooky. In the Christmas story, when angels appeared to a bunch of guys who would kill a lion for attacking their sheep and they were “sore afraid.” I’ve never been so afraid it made me sore, but I bet if I saw an angel that would make more sense.
Thinking about shepherds – even young teen shepherds like David – killing lions and bears to protect their flock should make you think twice about Psalm 23. The Lord is your shepherd… In other words, don’t sweat the lions and bears in your life. He can handle it.
You just keep being a sheep and let Him lead you.
The Gospel of John indicates that Jesus would rescue a sheep if it got away. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells a story about a shepherd with 100 sheep and leaves 99 of them on the mountain to pursue the one who is lost.
Jesus would definitely be chasing a sheep that ran away. I was listening to a Matt Chandler sermon from The Village Church in Texas this weekend and Chandler said that sometimes, when a sheep strayed too often, a shepherd would be forced to break its legs and carry it until it healed. He said that sheep would never leave the shepherd’s side again after it healed.
Chandler said when he learned this fact he prayed a quick prayer, “Okay, Lord, don't break my legs. I'm going to stay close. I like my legs. Don't break them. I'm going to stay as close as I know how to stay, all right?"
I know my Good Shepherd has had to chase me a few times. I’ve never shocked him with my failures and I’ve never out-sinned his mercy and grace, but I’ve been a sheep running loose on a highway more times that I would like to admit. I just hope I never get to the point where he has to break my leg to teach me to stay close.
I also hope I never eat myself to death, although there are probably worse ways to go.
It never feels great when His shepherd’s crook wraps around my neck to pull me out of a hole, but it’s always nice to be back in the flock.
Kent Bush is the Publisher of the Shawnee News-Star and a nationally distributed columnist through GateHouse Media's More Content Now news service. He writes about 150 columns a year. Some of them are funny. Sometimes that is on purpose. You can follow him on Twitter at @KentBush.