Our pastor said something in his sermon that has been stuck in my head the last few days…”Sheep without a shepherd just follow the food, which often leads to trouble.” It was a good sermon and I am sure there was much more he said that could have enlightened or encouraged me, but to be honest, after that I heard little else.
I pictured a cute, simple minded sheep, looking around for the rest of the flock. I pictured the look on his little sheep face as he realized he had wandered away. His sheep buddies and their care taker were nowhere in sight. His emotions quickly moved from “oh no, I’m lost” to “Hey, there’s a patch of grass over there”. Soon the little sheep was so busy eating he forgot he was lost. His head was down and all he saw was the grass before him. Moving from patch to patch he was unaware he was munching his last meal. He wandered to a ledge and soon discovered that he is a sheep and not a mountain goat. He lost his footing(or hoofing) and slid down into a scary abyss. ….Okay,okay…my imagination got a bit carried away, but I have a new image of the importance of a shepherd and also of FOOD.
Sheep follow food. I am aware that scriptures portray us as sheep, “Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pature.”(Psalm 100:3), but suddenly I have a new kinship with sheep…I TOO follow the food!
I ventured into a shopping mall yesterday determined to conquer my Christmas list. I am not a fan of shopping in general, but shopping in a mall filled with holiday décor and vast “sales” is especially overwhelming. As I rode an escalator down from the third floor of one department store, I felt like a queen surveying her glittering kingdom. Bows, bells, garland, and bright colored displays gave the store the look of giant Christmas party. For the first thirty minutes of my shopping adventure, I simply walked around taking in all the sights and sounds. After getting acclimated to my surroundings I pulled out my list and attempted to located noted items.
It was not long before I lost track of my intended purpose. The aroma of fresh coffee and a sign sporting the image of a cup topped with whipped cream drizzled with chocolate was too difficult to pass up. Godiva chocolatiers offering free tastings tempted me from the doorway of their shop. The local kitchen gadget store assaulted my senses with free samples of cookies and cocoa. I noticed that while I was sorting through racks of sweaters all I could think of was where the closest Auntie Ann’s Pretzel was. By the time my shopping was complete I was already contemplating where I would consume my next meal. I decided to forego eating out and headed home to prepare my dinner. The entire time I sat in traffic all I thought of were the dinner options hiding in my fridge. I must admit my entire shopping trip pivoted around food. I follow the food.
Today I am asking myself what kind of food I am following. I am not referring to a diet or challenging my eating habits, I am referring to the food I feed my mind and spirit. Am I filling my thoughts from literature, television, or others…am I missing the best food of all, His Word? Following the food can lead us into a heap of trouble, ie that sheep that ate himself right over a steep ledge, but if we are following His food we will find ourselves right beside The Shepherd.
That’s where I want to be, not just hanging out with the flock. I don’t want to be found on the outer edge of the flock, one hoof in the direction of the shepherd, one hoof directed toward wayward pastures. I don’t want to be jostling about in the thick of the flock aimlessly following the other sheep, unable to see the shepherd myself. I want to be right beside my beloved Shepherp, getting my sustancne from Him. From there I will feel His nudge of direction; He will not need to use His long hooked staff to draw me back. From there I will not easily stray. From there I will know His peace and grace.
“O God Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee…” Psalm 63:1