Posted tagged ‘Good Shepherd’

LIFE’S A MESS — TAKE HEART

August 14, 2017

(A message  – to me  –  about lambs and lamb’s wool . . .   and death to come.)

Sometimes life seems a mess,  a complicated, tangled mess.    We get to feeling like that once in a while.     We get a lot of “cares”   and loose ends swirling around in our minds.

Alligator Wrong Side

Doesn’t take much sometimes.    As we work and learn and think —  still, everything doesn’t fall into place, and those loose ends don’t get tucked neatly away,  not even at the end . . . .     Most of us will come to the end of our lives with not all things fitting together and making sense.

Alligator Inside Out

 

Of course,  our Maker is seeing a different pattern developing.

Alligator Right Side

Cute little alligator sweater for Cooper!

I didn’t create the pattern or write the directions for the alligator.     I needed a chart for  guidance.  I needed Guidance.

It’s very soft.     I’m using something similar to lamb’s wool.

But I myself am no smarter about life than a little lamb, soft and vulnerable, in the middle of a great green pasture.

Lamb in pasture

I didn’t make the pasture,   I didn’t even put myself here,  and I don’t know everything that I’m supposed to do here,  but my Creator is the One who, with a gentle shepherd’s hand,  made me and placed me here . . .  and watches to see what I’ll do.

Everything will be provided —

lamb and water

Delicious green grass,  water,  companionship,  and Guidance.

I don’t have to solve the problems of the whole world.       I don’t even have to anticipate everything that’s going to happen.     (“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”   Isaiah 40:31)      Even when   Especially when I don’t understand certain things,   there will be strength to go on.

The Good Shepherd is looking down on the life He gave us, with great care and attention, so when things get complicated  we need to just “stay where he put us.”

lamb waiting

 

Although for us humans that means being active, learning, doing, walking in His ways,   and it might look like we’re making a mess,  He is seeing our pattern forming,  from the “Other Side,” so to speak,    and when He sees that we have made our choices,  for or against Him,  with or without Him,  He’ll know when our time is up —  we are who we are going to be.

 

lamb no lamb

 

—  and we’ll be taken out of this beautiful pasture Earth.

And then stand before Him . . . .

 

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GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES

May 1, 2017

(Good Shepherd Sunday this week)

Every once in a while, when I get into a discussion of sheep,  someone in the group tells me the story of the farm boys who tease their father’s sheep by getting them to follow each other — around in  a circle!

(Here’s a sketch; sorry it’s so light. I used mainly a grey pencil.)

good sh in acircle

Around and around and around;  “because sheep are so dumb they’ll just keep following the one in front of him”   —  around and around  .  .  .   Great joke!     Then the farm boys would get into trouble because — well, it’s just plain mean to take advantage of dumb animals.

So is that story ever true?     Really?     That dumb?

But maybe.

I’ve read about sheep.  Here are two great classic books describing the behavior of actual sheep with the not-so-subtle suggestion of the many ways we are like the sheep too.

good shep books

The books are entertaining.   The author is a real shepherd and has intimate and detailed knowledge about the care of sheep.    What a job!  They can’t take care of themselves like, say, a herd of beef cattle.    Or trout in a trout pond.    Chickens in a coop . .  .

Sheep stray.   They have no idea how to find their way back.   They eat things they shouldn’t.   They get pretty sick and easily  die.  They get thirsty, but have to be led to the nearby watering hole.    They don’t wander home when it gets dark.

good shep on a hill

The shepherd pretty much has to do all the thinking for his sheep and lead them along, staying alert and attentive.

But he has to lead them gently.   They spook easily.   A harsh voice will spook them.   They get confused easily.    A stranger’s voice will spook them.

One spring day when I was a teacher,  a student’s mother brought in a baby lamb.   She warned me ahead of time that lambs are extremely sensitive to sudden noises, bangs or shouts.  Any sudden change in volume would be enough to shock the little lamb to death!

god little lamb

She said it sometimes happens in their barns.

Try keeping 32 seven-year-olds   still and quiet when a  tiny little lamb appears in the classroom!     That day is impressed deeply in my memory, I was so worried.   (Nobody died that day!)

We are taught that we are like sheep.  We people.   We who think we know so much.  We who think we know what we need.  We who think we know where our lives are taking us.   We who think we can find our way,  but, really, we’re merely following.

Here’s what the Good Shepherd would like us to know about ourselves:  “All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned  everyone to his own way.”    He told the great prophet Isaiah to teach us that.    We have a fatal flaw;  we’ve strayed away from the One who made us and  turned to our own ways.

In all my decades of life,  I’ve never found that not to be true.

The Good Shepherd knows everything.     We’d all be lost in the end,  if we didn’t have a Good Shepherd inviting us to follow Him.

good shep holding little one

The pathway is Narrow.   Cliffs and quicksand,  cunning wolves,  sheep rustlers   (thieves),   bad weather and misfortune,  hunger, thirst, and sickness, enticing shadows, fake shepherds  — all  distract us and lie in wait for us.

Think how dangerous it would be for these sheep to leave their Shepherd!!

“I am the Good Shepherd; my sheep know my voice and I know them.”    Nobody can get to Heaven without Him.

 

 

 

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD: Philosophy 101

April 19, 2015

Today in Christendom is Good Shepherd Sunday.    We join with our ancestors for hundreds and hundreds  of years in learning more deeply why Our Lord is likened to a Shepherd and why we are likened to sheep.

Good  shepherd

Looking forward,  we join today with future generations who will also learn and contemplate Christ the Good Shepherd.   We will teach our children — and observe how they instinctively understand this analogy.

The Shepherd cares for the sheep and does everything in their best interest.  The sheep,  little ones and  older ones,  follow His lead because they trust Him to know best.    They keep their eye on their shepherd,  they go to him for their needs, and we can even  imagine the sheep bear affection towards their shepherd.

This alone is worthy of a lifetime of meditation.

As we become adults and grow older,   it’s a good thing to focus on that very word which children, in their childlike innocence, seem to understand so well:   “Good.”     The tiniest toddler understands:  “Good boy!”    “Good girl.”

And what does it mean when we call the Son of God, our Good Shepherd   “good”?      Wise men with greater intellects than I have said that  God is good, and that the very definition of “good”  is named God,  and that God is Goodness itself.   Fundamentally,  what is good?   God is that which is Goodness.

Do you have a problem with God?    Imagine a “better God” – one that is so good that He is infinitely good —  That is God.    You’ve heard a lot of enemies of God speak about Him.   So can you imagine an even better God than what they say there is?    Then that is the real God.

You can go on and on like this;  keep imagining a God who is even more good,  and even more good than that.    You may go on into Infinity, and then begin to approach the Goodness of the One God Most High — Who is Goodness itself.

“God  is  Good.”   And God is the source and origin of all goodness that comes into man’s thinking.

But is He “real”?        Long before Christianity came about,  The Greeks understood that something that is actually really in existence is greater than the thought of it.   

Christian philosophy adds a kind of definition of God:    “God is that than which no greater can be conceived.”    

So when you say God is Good, and have an idea what that means,  still greater is the real God,  for He actually exists. 

And in His Goodness,   He is actually Good to us as individuals.   

Good shepherd and you

He is our Shepherd,   one sheep at a time.

A child can understand this.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD COMES NEAR

February 14, 2012

Huge insurmountable problems burden The Spruce Tunnel these days.

“Insurmountable”  because I have no role in solving them, but I am  the Ear That is There.    The willing Ear.  Sad news/bad news, from one direction;  and I pray….    Sad news/scary news; and I share the waiting, and pray….   Ongoing overwhelming tangle of family relationships; and I feel the pain, and pray…..Sad news/ horrifying news, unexpectedly; I’m participating in the anguish, and I pray.

Just a phrase from the Readings on this past Sexagesima Sunday.  Since the 600’s A.D.  this Bible passage has been read on this particular Sunday, and in exquisitely perfect timing,  I needed to hear it just at this time:   “….My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity…”

    Such gentle words.   Tender words.

   He came to find the wounded sheep, the lost lamb, the hurting ones.   He came with healing and with His grace.

He says His  grace is sufficient for us, for our needs, grace to be channeled through us to others.

In all these serious situations which have come up all at once,   I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to say.     St. Paul tells us: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another…” (Romans 13:8)    I can do  that.  The pain is guiding the way.

I think Our Good Shepherd  would tell us:   Be gentle with each other.  Be tender and compassionate.   Be there.   Love.

Okay.