I’ve been thinking about sheep this week.
Not that I know very much about them, but I’ve been dwelling on Psalm 100.
“Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.“
It’s a pretty basic concept. God made us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He leads us where we need to go (if we let Him). Sheep will follow, you know. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.
It’s so lovely when He leads us “in green pastures” and “beside still waters.” Don’t you love that? But what about “the valley of the shadow of death” and other unpleasant places? Why in the world would He lead us there? And why would He take us one place for awhile and then lead us back to where we started?
Does God make mistakes sometimes? Of course not.
Do I sometimes misunderstand where He is leading? Well… maybe. But I do my absolute best to follow Him always.
Since I don’t know a whole lot about sheep, I can’t take the analogy very far… but it did occur to me that sheep are usually raised for their wool. And I’m pretty sure the shearing doesn’t take place in the green pastures.
And my goodness! I can’t think that the shearing process is very pleasant for the sheep.
My Granddaddy raised sheep in the 1940s. He and his brother even went to the Oklahoma State shearing contest one year. Look at how they have those poor ol’ sheep pinned down. Uncle Lawton is practically kneeling on his. (That probably has something to do with why he won the championship, you think?)
Yet the wool is essentially why the shepherd tends to the sheep so carefully throughout the year, right? And then when he leads them to be sheared, they follow along. (Willingly or not. I don’t know about that.)
While I was studying Psalm 100 this week I learned that the Hebrew word for worship is service.
So when I think of being a sheep in God’s pasture, I guess my “service” would be like the wool maybe. That’s what I give back to God.
Just like the dumb sheep probably don’t understand why the shepherd wants their wool, I don’t have a clear understanding of why my service is valuable to God. But apparently it is.
When I serve Him, I worship Him. Praise Him. Offer thanksgiving.
For those reasons I find it easy to “serve the Lord with gladness” even when I don’t understand what His purpose is.