I am a sheep!
When a sheep lies down it must be incredibly careful to not roll onto its back. If it does, gases build up very quickly in its stomach and it dies. This is called being a cast sheep.
But sheep are not known for being careful! They easily can slip from a safe place of rest to a dangerous place of wallowing.
It is so easy for me to become a cast sheep! If I do not guard my heart and my mind, I can allow dangerous, poisonous thoughts to fill me. I can easily slip from rest to wallowing. It is just a matter of where I set my thoughts. Focus on the problems, the things I feel I am lacking, the difficulties and I am “cast” in a very short time. Focus on the Lord, thankful for what He has done in the past and praising Him for His character, resting in His promises for the future and I can stay in a rested posture without slipping into wallowing.
If a sheep is left unshorn, the weight of the wool can become dangerous. The wool keeps growing the sheep is unnecessarily burdened. There was the case of Shrek the Sheep that fled shearing and evaded the shepherd for years! By the time he was captured he was almost unrecognizable as a sheep. Plus, his wool was a dirty, matted mess and his burden was far heavier than anything he was ever designed to bear.
When I hold onto THINGS, I am holding onto my wool. When I won’t allow the Good Shepherd to “shear me” of all that I am, all that I have, all that He has given, I become weighted down, a dirty, matted mess. But when I hold all that He has given me with open hands, allowing Him to give and take away as He sees fit, I become a conduit of blessing for others. Just like the sheep regrows the wool after it is shorn, God refills my cup over and over again. It is far healthier for me to be a conduit of blessing than a stagnant pool of gifts He has given.
There are so, so many things the sheep has no control over. One of those are the flies that pester it, especially around the face. Some of those flies will lay eggs inside the sheep’s nose if they can – and then the larvae can even go to the brain, killing the sheep. So the shepherd uses a mixture of oil and spices to anoint the head and face of the sheep. This keeps the flies away and the sheep safe.
“He anoints my head with oil.” There are flies of worry, doubt, fear, disbelief, anxiety. They buzz about my face and my head, filling my brain with their incessant noise. But the Good Shepherd has given me the Anointing Oil I need, if I will just apply it! Oil in the Bible is one of the pictures of the Holy Spirit. And as a believer, I have the Holy Spirit of the Living God dwelling in me. It is up to me if I remember that, tap into that, and allow Him to anoint my head with oil. How do I do that? I take every thought captive to Christ. I replace the flies of worry with the oil of praise. I choose to lift my face to the Shepherd instead of turning it down and focusing on me. And He is always, always good to smooth oil on my face, filling me with His Word, His hope, His comfort. He collects my tears in His bottle, according to the Psalms. He does what He tells us to do in Romans – He weeps with me as I weep, He rejoices with me as I rejoice. He is the God of all comfort as Paul called Him for me and He gives me the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness as Isaiah said.
And there are so many more examples of how I am sheep!
I am filled with fear – but He protects me.
I need to be led – but He walks before me, wooing me forward with His voice.
I need to sheepdogs to keep me on the path – He provides goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life.
I won’t rest unless I have still waters in my soul – He calms the storm of my heart with a word.
I need green pastures with good food to nourish me – He provides great books, teachers, and ultimately His Word, illuminated by His Spirit.
I need correction – His rod and His staff provide that for me.
I need safety – He is the door to the sheep pen, and He guards my soul.
Yes – I am a sheep.
Prone to wander.
Foolish in my own thinking.
In danger from myself and my enemy.
But He is the GOOD Shepherd.
He laid down His life for me.
And He leads me day by day.
I am His.
And He is mine.
Truly, what more does this wonderfully foolish sheep need?