Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mama Sheep

Our sermon this past Sunday was on the passage of John 10: 1-14.

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…”

The preacher said something that caught my attention and got me to thinking. I am sure the path my thoughts followed was not the path the preacher intended in his sermon that morning, but, well…that’s just how my mind works!

He was saying how the sheep learn to recognize the voice of their shepherd, and how the little baby lambs follow their mothers as they (the mothers) follow and trust in the shepherd, thus learning to do this themselves.

Can you see my ears prick, my eyes light up, and the wheels in my brain start turning?

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Many times in the Bible Jesus and God are spoken of as our shepherd, and we the sheep.

If Jesus is the shepherd, and we are His sheep, then what is our job as mothers? To lead our children to Him, to teach them to follow and trust in Him.



Down toward the end of this Scripture passage, we have verses 12-13:

The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Who could we compare to the hired man? Child care centers, public schools, even church classes. If we, the Mama Sheep, are not training our little lambs consistently to follow the ways of our Good Shepherd, if we are leaving them to fend for themselves, to be cared for by the hired hands, or are expecting the rest of the flock (that is, the church) to train and disciple them, we are leaving them defenseless and open to influence by the hired men, who, not being the True Shepherd or the lamb’s own mother, will abandon them when trouble comes.

Certainly, there are well meaning people in the world who want to help our children. The church tends to step in, sometimes where it shouldn’t. Nowhere in the Bible is the church given the task or responsibility of raising Godly children. That job and that responsibility is given - multiple times - expressly and specifically to the parents. We are to be the Mama (and Daddy!) sheep, teaching our little lambs to follow Christ, not turning them over to the hired hands or even the rest of the flock and assuming that they’ll do a proper job for us.

I read about a study in Norway that found that the stronger the bond between a ewe and her lamb, the less likely the lamb was to be attacked or eaten by wolves. The stronger the bond, the closer the ewe and lamb stayed to each other, and the more alert the ewe was of the needs and behaviors of her lamb.

How strong is the bond between you and your little lambs? How closer are you to them on a daily basis? Are you turning them over to the “hired workers”, the day cares and public schools? Or assuming they’ll learn what to do by watching the rest of the “flock”, by attending endless church classes and social functions? Are you keeping a close watch over them and forming a close bond with them, or are you letting them wander way into the wolves’ snares?

Jesus is our God Shepherd, and we as parents - and we alone - are tasked with the responsibility of keeping them close and teaching them to truly know and follow the voice of our Shepherd.


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