One of the many wonderful things about living in Cumbria is that over the years I have been able to watch our local farmers at work with their sheep. Sheep haven’t changed much over the centuries and I don’t suppose shepherding has either in its essentials, despite the mountains of paperwork farmers have to cope with these days!
What I have seen has deepened my understanding of the passages about our Good Shepherd. Our farming friends, without exception, all have enormous hands! Strong and yet capable of handling the newborn lambs with gentleness, they remind me of our Good Shepherd’s hands, protecting and guiding us. Whenever I shake one of these hands, my own feels completely enfolded.
Sheep are not particularly intelligent and there is often one which strays beyond the bounds of the field. Last year, one kept crossing the road to go to a patch of very muddy and unattractive grass, and once when someone came walking along with his dogs, the sheep dashed across the road in front of my car. I only just missed it. When I told the farmer he said, ‘Ay, there’s allus (always) one!’ It reminded me that God has given us the safe boundaries of the Ten Commandments, not to be a spoilsport, but to protect us, but the grass often seems to be greener and more tempting on the other side of the road.
Prayer: Father God, thank You that you are my Good Shepherd and that You take good care of me. Help me to put my hand in Yours and give me strength not to stray outside the safe boundaries You have given me. Amen.
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