Fri., July 29, 2016
Psalm 23:1: The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
I was fortunate. I grew up on a farm. This allowed me to learn lots of important and life-long lessons early in life; lessons I reflect upon regularly. My sisters and I raised sheep. Having been a shepherd myself, I am drawn to passages of scripture that speak of sheep and shepherding. As a pastor, I see the correlation even more poignantly!
For years, my sisters and I exhibited and showed sheep through 4-H and FFA. It was a great time in my life. Yesterday and today, in a 24-hour time frame, I drug my husband, Rick, to two sheep shows to watch people important to us have their 4-H and FFA experience.
Thursday afternoon, we attended the Columbia County Fair. One of my roommates from college is Barb. Her kids, Zachary and Megan, show sheep at this fair. Barb grew up on a dairy farm. Her husband, Dave, showed beef. Sheep have been a new experience for their family. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the end of the sheep show, as we headed north to drop two grandsons off enroute to my sister’s, Debbie’s, house. Her son, Kevin, showed at the Eau Claire County Fair today.
I think my brother-in-law was pleased when I suggested going up early with my sister and nephew to help get the sheep ready. This allowed he and Rick to come a little later. Thea is a friend of Kevin and Debbie’s. She showed sheep this year for the first time. Maybe a little anxious when she arrived at the fair, Thea and I took her lamb for a walk. We went over how to set her lamb up, where to stand in relationship to the judge, what questions she might be asked. Thea was a little sponge and quickly absorbed everything we reviewed.
Going to fairs brings back lots of memories from when I showed sheep and dairy. In the years I showed, I remember standing not at the top of the class many, many more times than being the class winner. My Dad impressed to me that “winning” wasn’t most important. Properly preparing my animals, doing my very best, enjoying what I was doing, representing agriculture well were far more important than the color of ribbon I received. Of course, there were times I had a different opinion than the judge. This was OK. Yet I needed to respect and appreciate the person who took time to judge everyone’s animals at the fair.
As a shepherd of a different kind of flock these days, these same live lessons apply. Being prepared for whatever I do is so important. When I do my best, God will bless and anoint my efforts. Having fun in the process makes life far more rewarding, even on the most challenging of days. Representing myself as a Christian first in all that I say and do draws a positive light to God and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Every day, I have differences of opinions about how things should go. Thank goodness, God knows more of what I need on a daily basis and provides me with what I absolutely need just for today.
Most importantly, I am so thankful a have the ultimate shepherd in my life: a shepherd who loves me even when I get loose and run around; a shepherd who overlooks my flaws and loves me unconditionally; a shepherd who sees my potential and draws out the best in me; a shepherd who knows the journey is far more important than ribbon color. I am thankful I have a shepherd in my life who does this and so much more. These lessons I began to learn 40 years ago continue today; just in a little different context. Thank you, Lord, for being the shepherd of my life.
Where would I be without you as my good shepherd? Thank goodness you know what I need more than I do. Thank you for loving me even when I’m unlovable. Thank you for seeing my full potential and drawing it out of me. Amen.
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