“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
— John 10:27-28
My grandfather owned about 1,000 acres of cattle ranch in central Texas that he and my grandmother had inherited from my grandmother’s family. As such, my father and his brother grew up working cattle. It was everything they knew. Every summer, in June, we would go with my dad to tag and vaccinate the new calves. We became little cattle ranchers too. Now my brothers are continuing the legacy.
You could say it’s in our blood.
For some reason, in the summer of 1979, when I was a girl, this family of cattle ranchers thought they’d try their hand at sheep. There was so much excitement about this new venture. I remember that it was all the men talked about. What a disaster.
My family’s knowledge of cattle did not transfer in the least. These sheep were scared of everything. They were scared of the men, they were scared of the horses, they were scared of the cattle, they were scared of us kids. They were jumpy and followed each other into terrible situations. Once, we had to help rescue the whole flock, which was stuck knee deep in a partially dried tank, each and every member. We used the horses to pull them out, one by one. Much to our dismay, each time we pulled one out of the muck and released it, we then watched it walk straight back in to be with the other sheep. We finally got wise and penned up the sheep once they were pulled from the mud so that they could not return to the scene of their demise. Needless to say, my grandfather sold the sheep as quickly as possible and returned to strictly cattle.
The problem was that the sheep had not learned to trust my grandfather. And my grandfather had not learned how to be their shepherd. They did not know his voice.
Without Christ as our guide, we, like the sheep, simply follow each other into disastrous worldly scenarios. We exhaust ourselves with the pursuit of money, beauty, power, opinions, priorities and philosophies that are arrayed against God. We consign ourselves to our own muddy graves, unable to do anything else.
But Christ is our voice. He is our shepherd. He leads us from our filth. He calls us individually, by name. He shows us who we are, who we have always been, who we were meant to be, and he calls us to lead others to him. He is the light that illuminates our paths.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30