Do sheep have a sense of direction? I don’t know. I know they’re creatures of habit, but just because they can get into a routine doesn’t mean they know where they’re going when left to their own devices. As far as I’m concerned, sheep have two settings, hungry and scared. And if they aren’t one, they’re the other.
Today’s verse is Isaiah 53:6.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
I’ve blogged before about how similar we are to sheep. The more you know about sheep, the more you’ll realize how much we’re alike. If you leave a sheep on its own, it will walk the same path day after day because it’s the path it has always followed. And even if there isn’t any food on that path, it will keep looking for it until it walks itself to death.
When you’re raising sheep, you have to establish a routine that you repeat daily. If you don’t, they get scared. I was told during my days raising sheep for 4-H that you would increase your chances of your sheep surviving through the fair if you played a radio in their barn stall constantly. Because there would be radios at the fair, and if the sheep isn’t used to it, it’ll drop dead in fright.
And you also have to establish a feeding schedule every day. You can’t just put all their food in the stall with them because they won’t stop eating when they’re full. They’ll eat themselves to death. And you have to mix salt in with their food instead of providing a salt block because they’ll chew holes in their teeth.
Does any of that sound familiar? Maybe we don’t chew holes in our teeth per se and maybe radios don’t scare us and maybe we can fend for ourselves a little better than sheep can, but how different are we really? I make fun of sheep for lacking a sense of direction, but my sense of direction is no better. Because when I wander off on my own, I get into all sorts of trouble.
There are so many times I am sure I know where I’m going. And I’m confident that even if I get into a sticky situation, I can handle myself well enough to get out unscathed. But it rarely happens that way. I’ve gotten really good at turning around when I’m trying to navigate a city I don’t know. But it’s one thing to turn around when you’ve taken a wrong turn while you’re driving. It’s something else to turn around when you’ve made a wrong choice in life.
Wrong choices in life don’t just affect me. Getting lost in life doesn’t just have an impact on my situation; it affects the people around me too. And the really ironic part of it is that I would never get lost if I just stayed on the path God laid out.
That’s why sheep need shepherds. They aren’t capable of taking care of themselves. So someone has to provide food for them or show them where they can find food. And sheep know that, as much as a sheep can know anything. That’s where we are different. We think we can take care of ourselves. We think we can survive on our own. We think we don’t need a shepherd because if we have a shepherd that means we aren’t in control of our lives.
But shepherds know where to find food. Shepherds know where to find water. They know how to take care of their sheep. Shepherds aren’t enemies with their sheep; their sheep are their livelihood. So why wouldn’t a shepherd want the best for them?
I’m not saying we are God’s livelihood, but why wouldn’t He want the best for us? The issue comes when His best doesn’t match our expectations, and that’s when we walk away from Him and get lost looking for food along our own path. We’re fortunate that He comes looking for us.
It’s the shepherd’s job to know how to take care of his sheep. It’s God’s job to know how to take care of us. And maybe there are times when it doesn’t feel like God is leading me along a fun path, but I need to trust that He knows where He’s going because I don’t.