Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Removing Dingle-Berries

Spoiler/Warning:  Farm life is rarely politically correct.  And, while the example below may seem offensive to some Bible scholars, Jesus called Himself the "good Shepherd," presenting Himself through the lowly, real objects of daily life.

Wednesday is barn-cleaning day.  While the girls shoveled cow schlpoo, I clipped dingle-berries from the back end of sheep.  Usually it doesn't need to be done, but a couple of the gals ate something they shouldn't have and the dingle-berries grew, interfering with normal functions, creating a maggot habitat.
You may wonder what this has to do with Jesus, the "Heart Quencher." Just this: Jesus is our Shepherd.  Just like a shepherd protects the flock from many things, including disease, Jesus protects us from the ill effects of sin by cleansing and restoring us.  It's up-close and personal.
Our youngest daughter helped me herd the ewes into the barn, down the alley, and into a jug (pen) that happened to be too big.  The sheep evaded me and pushed their weight around, endangering all of us while I had scissors in hand.  After shuffling them to a smaller pen, I climbed over the side and got to work, snipping matted wool that might otherwise become infected or infested.

As I walked back to the house, I thought of Jesus, our Great Shepherd.  We shared a comeraderie today as I realized: 
- Young shepherds tend to move quickly and make loud noises, frightening the sheep.  An experienced shepherd walks slowly, talks softly, and stays behind the sheep, guiding them to an exact destination. 
-  A shepherd creates order out of chaos.
-  A shepherd uses other sheep to buffer a new situation, control those who need care, and settle the unsettled. 
-  A shepherd speaks reassuringly to all the sheep while working closely and personally with each one.
-  A shepherd uses different instruments for different jobs: in this case, utility scissors vs. finely-pointed ones.  The wise shepherd uses the tool that is best suited for each situation. 

It's fair to say that all of suffer from dingle-berries that resulted from poor decisions.  But it's equally right to say that Jesus desires to free us of our sin and restore our spiritual health.  Perhaps God is trimming away sin in your life through people, circumstances, or His Word.  He is the only One who can do it with the quietness, gentleness, and sensitivity that lead to healing and restoration. 
A final word about sheep:  Not one of them said thank you.  Have you thanked your Shepherd today?

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