Do you know the story of Shrek the sheep?
He gained fame in 2004 when he was finally shorn after six years. Sheep are usually shorn annually but Shrek had avoided capture by hiding out in caves in his native New Zealand. By the time they finally caught him and sheared him, he yielded 60 pounds of wool, enough to create 20 large men’s suits.
All that wool could not have been comfortable! In fact, it was dangerous. If a sheep falls over on its back (or is “cast down”) and cannot get up, it is only a matter of minutes before dangerous gases build up in their stomachs and kill them. Shrek’s overly large burden of wool would have made it impossible for him to get up if he was ever “cast down”. By the time he was caught, the wool had covered his eyes as well. It is amazing that he evaded predators, natural dangers inherent to sheep like being cast down and even injuries during his six-year rebellion.
All because he did not want to be shorn.
Now, not all sheep are like Shrek. Some breeds naturally shed their fleece if they are not shorn. But a Merino’s fleece just keeps growing and growing. It makes them fantastic wool producers – but terrible rebels.
I love that throughout Scripture God uses living object lessons to help us to understand Himself and the very best ways to live. One of the most common in the Word is the picture that we are sheep and He is the Good Shepherd. I have been “chewing” on Psalm 23, “The Shepherd’s Psalm”, for the last few weeks. As I was thinking through the many, many ways that we are like sheep, it occurred to me that one of the only things sheep are really good for is shearing. They are not designed to be beasts of burden or any kind of hauling animal. (And that is a blog post for another day – how we tend to think we are oxen or horses or donkeys, designed to carry all of our burdens ourselves, when that was never the plan…)
But back to sheep. And specifically, Shrek the sheep. And how we are just like him.
We don’t like to let go, do we?
Whether it is resources or talents or time, we much prefer to hoard what we have been given.
But, just like Shrek, the more we hoard, the less freedom we have.
The more burdened we are.
And we miss the blessing of blessing others.
The theory is that Shrek hid out to avoid the possible pain of shearing. And I am sure that those 20 minutes under the clippers are not fun for any sheep. They may be painful if the shearer nicks the skin. And I am sure it is frightening to be held in place while a strange buzzing thing comes after you. But the freedom that comes on the other side! The weight that is lifted – that has to be an amazing feeling.
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) He also told instructed the disciples regarding sharing the gospel, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) The principle is taught over and over again in Scripture. Your best life is not achieved by hoarding the blessings, whatever they are. Your time, talent and treasure do not get multiplied by hoarding. Instead, they grow best and are best used when they are freely shared under the direction of your Good Shepherd.
You see, Shrek could not stop himself from producing wool. It’s what Merino sheep are wired to do.
As a Christ-follower, the fruit of the Spirit should be popping up in your life as you follow Him. And the blessings of grace should be more and more evident as you live more and more in the eternal perspective. It’s what Christ-followers are wired to do.
If Shrek had submitted himself to the shepherd, his life would have been richer, fuller and much, much easier. The weight of the wool would have been lifted. And others would have been blessed sooner because he willingly submitted to the shears.
As a Christ-follower, if you will submit yourself to the Shepherd, your life will be fuller, richer and much, much easier. Yes, the shearer will come. The clippers may even nick you. And you will not always understand the Shepherd’s ways. But if you will trust Him, He has promised to lead you. To protect you. To guide you in the best possible paths for your life.
Which includes showing you how to use the resources of time, talent and treasure that He has given you in ways that will benefit so many more people than just yourself. There will be tough stuff that comes up, for sure. Jesus promised that it would! He said, “In this world you WILL have trouble.” But He followed that with the promise: “But be encouraged – I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) You will still be a sheep facing the shearer. You will still have moments of fear and confusion. And you will not always love the process. But you will always, always have the Shepherd with you, comforting you, guiding you, guarding you, and providing for you. So you can let go of the wool. You can let go of the rebellion. The hiding. And protecting yourself. If you will simply yield.
And when you do?
Who knows what the 60 pounds of wool you have been hoarding can do to change the world!
Take the risk – trust the Shepherd.
Ask Him to shear you of what you have been hoarding – and feel the freedom that will bring. He is worth the risk!
If you want to read more about Shrek, check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek_(sheep)
If you want to know more about the picture of the sheep and the Good Shepherd that the Bible presents – including the idea of being “cast down” check out the book “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by W. Phillip Keller.