I came across this amusing but true story about a New Zealand Merino sheep named Shrek who escaped from the farm he was raised on because he wanted to avoid being sheared.
Merino sheep are raised for their prized wool that needs to be sheared once a year because, unlike other sheep variety, Merinos lack the ability to shed wool by themselves and need to be shorn by farmers.
This sheep in question ran away from the farm and spent over six years hiding in caves. When finally spotted by farmers, Shrek’s fur was so thick he could hardly stand under the weight of his own fleece. An average Merino fleece weighs about 4.5kg but this escapee’s weighed 27kg, enough to make suits for 20 men! The overgrown fleece also covered his eyes, which meant Shrek had lost vision for the years he had wool pulled over his eyes.
Although I’ve been a disciple of Jesus for many years, it still bemuses me that God refers to His people as sheep (Psalm 100:3). Another expression that made me laugh was when an exasperated mother said, “Trying to get the kids ready for church is like herding cats!”.
While sheep are technically easier to herd than cats, the nature of sheep means it comes with its own challenges. Sheep may seem docile but they certainly have their own will.
The Bible gives a good insight into sheep in Isaiah 53:6 and 1 Peter 2:25 – ‘All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our way…’
There are times and there are seasons and people who like to think of themselves as being in need of being ‘re-penned’. Sometimes, they seek to re-pen because of growth. Sometimes, it’s because of hurt. Sometimes, they just need to go.
This Covid period has seen a significant amount of sheep migration between different churches and cell groups. It happens in normal times, but the migration numbers grew significantly during this extraordinary period. Is this the shifting phenomenon that comes after the great shaking?
What do we need to do for those who are hurt? I think of the Good Samaritan and what he did for the injured man. He took pity on him. He bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Oil gives comfort while wine is a disinfectant. This is instructive for us shepherds on what to do for the hurting sheep on the move. And, note the sequence – pouring oil first before the wine – soothing before the sting. Comfort before discipline. It may seem counterintuitive but there’s wisdom within.
Reflecting on the tumultuous years he just came through, King David said, “Your gentleness has made me great” (Psalm 18:35). Consider that and administer gentleness to your sheep. The way of the Chief Shepherd is magnanimous, generous, and ultimately loving.
When a sheep leaves, sometimes the shepherd hurts too. As the Chief Shepherd is to the sheep, oh faithful shepherds, He is to you. He hasn’t forgotten you, your efforts nor your long years of service.
He has a reward for you (1 Peter 5:4) and He’s still training you to shepherd like Him in His qualities, whether you’re in your first year of service or 40th. So don’t beat yourself up nor congratulate yourself too much. Be comforted that the Master knows and backs you up in your shepherding.
Are you still wide-eyed and an eager beaver like when you first started? Can you reclaim that youthful energy you once displayed? That raw, open love that you displayed for God that drove you to take up this ‘crazy job’ because of your ‘crazy love’ for Him?
Jesus restored Peter and reinstated his apostleship with His words, “If you love me, tend and feed my sheep”. May you hear these comforting words from our good Chief Shepherd today. Oh how precious that love is in His sight. He cherishes His shepherds as He cherishes His sheep.
A final word for sheep who recently re-penned: we welcome you! You settled because the diet offered here suited you. My advice? Whether you’re joining us online or on-site – find a home, not a school. I find YouTube a pretty incredible school with an incredible faculty. But you’ll never make friends or find yourself a part of a family in ‘YouTube Seminary’.
Make Cornerstone your family, not just a school. Connect, make friends, serve and grow as a community in heart and not just in head. And if, like Shrek the sheep, you’ve grown to have so much gunk in that thick wool of hurt and offences, reach out and we’ll help shear that right off.
A quote by Graham Cooke goes, “You have no right to be wounded; you have a right to be healed. You don’t have a right to be offended; you have a right to be compassionate and forgiving. Exercise that right!”
How many years has it been? For Shrek it was six. Having that awful weight off you and regaining sight will be an incredible experience worth reaching out for. Just ask Shrek!
(Reference of ‘Shrek the Sheep’ extracted from https://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/07/shrek-sheep-who-escaped-shearing-for-6.html)