Here’s a fact all you shepherds know- sheep are stupid. I’ve personally never shepherded a sheep, but I’ve heard stories and seen sheep in petting zoos, and I would honestly rather not have that in my life. Seriously. Their stubborn and make stupid noises and drown easily in a couple inches of water.
Yet, in Isaiah 40 verse 11, one of my favorite passages, we’re called God’s sheep.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.”
I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly comforting. That Jesus carries us close to His heart, gathering us in His arms. But let me tell you something about sheep- they don’t like being carried all the time. They’re stubborn and antsy and everything else you could imagine of an ovine animal.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never parish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
I’ll ask you this of your role as a sheep: do you always follow Jesus? In everything you do, do you follow Jesus? Ha, we all know no one does that. There are times when we stray, times we don’t want to follow and times we feel like we can’t follow. Sometimes we ignore His voice and run off to do whatever it is that ovine creatures do. (Ovine is a proper name for the sheep family. Just saying. It’s like bovine.)
And shepherds can testify that they have the same problems with their sheep. And so here’s a little technique that they use to fix their misbehaving mutton: (Did I seriously just write that?) they break their sheep’s legs. They just walk on over to the sheep and violently destroy their legs, so then the sheep can’t run away anymore. But there’s purpose in the pain.
Once the sheep’s legs are broken, it is required to be carried by the shepherd. And during those times when the sheep is healing, he bonds with his shepherd. He learns his voice, so that when he is free to run around again, he will want to be with his shepherd. He will want to follow.
But don’t forget this- the sheep’s legs are only broken for a season. It is not the sheep’s fate to be eternally crippled and in need of healing. The shepherd hurts him for the purpose of healing him and developing a relationship with him during those hard times.
Repeatedly, Jesus says in John 10 that He is the good shepherd. He’s good, even when He’s snapping your legs. He has purpose. It hurts Him just as much as it hurts you, but He knows what He’s doing. Going back to Isaiah 40, God asks in verses 13-14, “Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?” He continues in verses 27-28 to say, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain O Israel, ‘My Way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…”
God knows what He’s doing. He knows your pain. He understands it all completely. But who are you to question Him? When you go through those hard times, is it your job to ask God what the heck He’s doing? It’s your job to just let Him carry you, and to trust that He knows best. This is overused, but true: If He brings you to it, He will lead you through it. Just develop Your relationship through Him and He will take it from there. That’s what He wants. That’s what you need. And it’s completely worth it.