I often find that I gain new insights into myself by watching the people and creatures which I encounter in everyday life. This morning I learned something by watching the sheep at Little Brown Farm. These sheep are friendly, curious, and just rather charming. One thing about sheep, though; what they have in charm and a sweet nature, they tend to lack in intelligence.
Every morning when I arrive at the farm I open the big double doors on the barn, to let the sunshine (or rain, whichever is currently in supply) and fresh air in. Next I go suit up – this includes a jacket, hat, boots and gloves. Then I feed our resident rodent control agents (aka barn kitties), and the Livestock Guardian Dog, Gabriel. I toss the hay flakes in for the goats that currently live in the barn, then load up a bale of hay on the garden cart and head outside.
Every day there is a chorus of hungry “Ma-a-ah!”(goats) and “Ba-a-ah!”(sheep) to greet me as I push the big bale of hay along the walkway between pens. Some of the ewes have such low voices that it is almost shocking. I often tell them (yes I am one of those crazy people who talks to animals) that if they ever join a choir, they would sing bass. The younger goats have sweet high pitched soprano voices, and the rest of the herd fills in the tenor and alto parts. Unless I have a headache or am feeling irritable, I generally find this chorus to be rather sweet, and entertaining. This is generally a short lived song, for the maahing and baahing only lasts until I get everyone fed, then everything goes mostly quiet, except for the soft chomp-chomp-chomp that their little mouths make while consuming copious amounts of grass hay.
This morning it was pouring rain: not the kind of rain that just sprinkles or drizzles, but a real soak-you-to-the-bone-in-spite-of-your-“waterproof” jacket- kind of rain. The goats have sense enough to stand under the shelters provided for them, and it is a good thing, because goats are susceptible to many more illnesses when they get wet and cold. The placid sheep, however, seem mostly happy to hang out in the rain and give their wooly coats an occasional shake to be rid of the water. Nonetheless I was determined that they shouldn’t have to eat in the rain so I slogged through the mud in their pen to toss the hay flakes inside their shelter. Most of the sheep seemed quite keen on the idea…one after another hopped over the doorframe and into the dry shelter to eat their breakfast. They were almost all inside when the last two ewes seemed to loose the train of thought. They turned away from the door, and looked at me as if to say “where are we going?” Then they began to Baaah again. When the first tentative calls proved to have no response on my part, they came over to the fence line and turned their duet up a notch or two on the volume scale. They were sure that I had forgotten to feed them after all- and all the other sheep were inside the shelter just pretending to eat in order to spite them. They ran circles around the shelter a few times, then ran the fenceline, voicing their indignation all the while. Finally I took mercy on them and threw another flake of hay on the ground outside the shelter for them to eat. This seemed to appease them, and they settled right in, chomping joyfully.
As I watched those two sheep running round and round that shelter with the door wide open, and the food readily available right inside, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between them and myself. You see, often when I need something I run all around the one place I know I can get it. Rather than simply going to God, I do everything in my power to do it by myself. I whine inwardly about how God hasn’t given me what I asked for, and how he hasn’t showed me the path I should take in life. I run to the fence line and baaah indignantly. I turn the volume up a notch, and really complain thoroughly. Yet all along, God is watching me, and thinking what I thought while watching those sheep. “oh you poor little thing, you simply don’t see that open door. You don’t understand that what you need and want so badly is right inside, free for the taking. All you have to do is step inside the shelter, and it is yours.” I think that often he takes compassion on me, as I did for those two sheep. Even though there is a big feast waiting inside the shelter, he gives me a flake or two to sustain me while I am still lost.
God is my shelter, and when I do His will I am walking through that open door. Only then can I see what He has for me – free for the taking. I can enjoy the feast of love, joy, and forgiveness. I am glad that God is my shepherd, and that He is compassionate, and full of love. He loves me just the same even when I am senseless.
Oh, and I am also glad that God doesn’t have headaches or irritable days so that my song always sounds sweet to Him, in tune or not. J