“In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field.” (Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23)
Only the presence of a Good Shepherd can meet the Four Requirements to MAKE a Sheep Lie Down. Here’s number one:
Owing to their timidity, sheep refuse to lie down unless they are free from all fear.
Phillip Keller shares stories of stampeding sheep fearing legitimate threats such as cougars, bears, stray dogs and coyotes. But, in other instances, all it took was a jackrabbit suddenly bounding from behind a bush, or a Pekingese dog jumping out from a car door to cause a whole herd to bolt in blind fear.
On the dairy, I have my own stories of nighttime encounters with cougars and bears passing nearby that send a herd of resting, ruminating cows into full stampede into the cowshed. I find it fascinating that my co-worker, Bill, can “smell” a bear. I can’t discern the threat so specifically, though my lantern sometimes catches the flash of eyes in the dark. Bill’s always right. The next morning, tracks or scat confirm his olfactory bear sniffing skills. Equally upsetting to cows is the arrival of the professional hoof-trimmer setting up his equipment to perform bovine pedicures.
It’s no surprise you and I have fears too. Both legitimate fears and silly anxieties that prevent us from lying down, prevent us from finding rest. Life brings uncertainties. Life delivers realities of harsh, painful circumstances, replete with suffering and loss. We formulate strategies of bolting or tactics of retreat.
Let’s take A Deep Breath of Remember as we hear Phillip Keller:
“Then, in the midst of our misfortunes, there suddenly comes the awareness that He, the Christ, the Good Shepherd is there. It makes all the difference.”
Or how about these words from the shepherd lad, David, protector of the flock, killer of both lion and bear:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5, NIV)
He makes me lie down… (Psalm 23:2, NIV)
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8, NIV)
Prayer: Thank you Holy Spirit as you come quietly to reassure us that Christ Himself, our Good Shepherd is aware of our dilemma and deeply involved with us. Amen.