My dear lamb, do you remember when I found you that dark, stormy night when you were lost? Oh, how you had continuously battled your temptation to run from the flock to a new place, a greener place, a place less crowded with no other sheep to contend with. You still loved your family, but wanted more. Being a sheep in my flock became less satisfying to you. You even listened to the wolves baying at night secretly longing to see what you were missing.
The other sheep seemed so dumb, boring, as though they had never also thought of life outside the pen, independent of the flock, out of the reach of my staff. They gave quick answers telling you to be a sheep and cooperate and stop thinking nonsense. But to you, it wasn’t so simple. You tried to fight it, but the wolves kept telling you of their freedom, their excitement, their lives free of care. My warnings were clear and at first believed, but you kept listening to the howling at night, and soon you could no longer hear my voice.
Instead of being my sheep, you worked hard to prove you didn’t need me, that you could take care of yourself, provide for yourself, choose which pasture was the safest and greenest, and when to rest and when to move on. And oh, how you came to hate the pen — those controlling, confining, confronting sticks which all worked together to limit your “potential.” You’d forgotten how I’d once held you under your favorite shade tree and explained to you why I made that pen. It was for your protection, to keep you in a safe place and to keep danger out. I made the pen from the strongest branches bound with the freshest rope with clear design and order to provide a safety net for you and the flock. Don’t you recall how others looked after you there, helped you, disciplined you? It was all because they loved you and had seen before what “living with the wolves” did to sheep.
My little lamb, you busied yourself with so many unimportant things, anything to avoid hearing my voice. But I kept calling to you. And finally the night came when you managed to break away from the flock to follow the howling.
When I noticed you were missing, I left the others to find you; I loved you. Searching for the end of your tracks over hills and valleys, I could tell you had good times and bad. But then I heard that sound I know too well, the noise of the pack dragging you, fighting over you, ripping your flesh.
As I came upon them and fought them off, one remained holding your neck in his teeth. He was determined to enjoy my little lamb, but I was more determined to save you. His bite sunk deep into my hands and side, but I was all the more determined to hold you. I fought that wolf all night in the rain, just for you.
And as I carried you back to the flock in the pen over your hills and valleys, I could hear your faint voice of sorrow and pain from the damage of the wolf. But I reassured you, held you tightly and forgave you. And at the pen, in the light and warmth of the fire, I bound up your wounds washed by the rain. Do you remember little lamb how clean you were back at the pen the night I found you? You were pure once again, except for the blood on your coat, which was my own.
written by Ron Triggs, pastor at Church of the Living Christ, Ojai