Recently I started singing in a Choir at my family’s old church. I really like singing and enjoy going to church. As a kid I thought church went on for hours and I would struggle to stay awake through the pastor’s sermons most of it floating over my head. The whole ordeal felt too much like school in uncomfortable seats. I would squirm and fidget in the pews, jealous of the little kids who got to go play up stairs. If I was to restless I would get judge mental glances from the adults around me most of whom I am related to. I now that I’m older, my attention span is longer and I understand more of what is going on however, I still get those sideways glaces.
Several Sundays ago we had a guest pastor coming to preach. Church went as normal we sang some hymnals then the choir sang and the guest pastor stood up and started his sermon. Now this was a wile ago so I don’t exactly remember what he was preaching about but in a part of his sermon he started talking about sheep. In one part of his sermon he asked the congregation.
“What are Sheep?” and the everyone said,
“Stupid!” everyone except me. I pipped up in my loud voice said,
“Smart!” there were those sideways glances.
Now I didn’t mean to say smart as loud as I did I know I blushed and sunk down in my seat. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew I was right. I spent a good part of my child hood with sheep and I still work with them on a weekly basis and sheep are smart.
I understand why people who are not familiar with sheep would consider them stupid. I mean look at them, these strange fluffy creatures who fallow one person with a hooked staff around a field.
There are tons of stories of sheep being eaten or wondering off and getting “lost” yeah there are lots of stories about the lost lambs in the bible. I will admit they are not the brightest crayon in the box. I personally have seen some sheep perform miraculous feats of stupidity that even make me shake my head and say oh man what a stupid animal. Despite this, sheep have a self preserving intelligence that I truly admire.
Think about it this way, shepherds are humans and humans are predators, sheep and goats are pray animals that humans raise for food. Sheep and goats naturally fear humans and their response is to flee away from people. I have worked with both sheep and goats and I have found that if I walk into a pen of goats after a few minutes they will become curious and will walk up to me. Sheep however will run (hide if possible) and watch me from a distance. They will not approach if they do not know me. Goats will walk up to complete strangers. The sheep’s natural weariness of people makes them difficult to catch, whereas goats are easy to catch because of their willingness to approach. I personally think that as a pray animal letting your curiosity get the better of you to approach a known predator doesn’t make a smart life choice.
The belief the sheep will fallow blindly, simply isn’t true,I know this from experience. When I was first learning about sheep we would let them out to graze to help keep down the weeds around the farm. When we first let them out it was great, they all stayed together (for the most part) and ate the weeds where we wanted them to. When it came time to put them away those cute, docile, well behaved sheep, scattered running in every direction except back to their pen. They made me run all over the farm to get them home. I also discovered that if you get a few sheep into the pen you really don’t have any sheep in the pen because as soon as you get the rest of the sheep near the pen enough to open the gate to put them in the rest get out and you are back to square one.
I have even had the entire flock hide from me. This is by far one of the most cleverest thing I have ever seen from sheep. Down at one end of the property we have a large hay barn that holds our hay and grain that we use to feed the farm. We do our best to keep the sheep away from there because they will help themselves to the bales and grain. When I am not paying attention they will sneak over there and hide behind the barn. They will then (and this is the clever part) set a look out to watch for me. One sheep will stand with their head poking around the corner looking for any potential predators. When they see me coming the look out will come out of hiding and watch me as I get closer. When I am too close for comfort the look out will stomp their hoof and the entire flock will flee away from me bouncing and frolicking.
It is true sheep will fallow shepherds but only after they have gained their trust. I have managed to train the farm sheep to fallow me with help from some tasty persuasion. The sheep now know me and a few of them trust me enough to come up to me to see if I have something good to eat or to be scratched under the chin.
I know the pastor was using sheep as a metaphor for followers of Christ as they do in the bible. I personally feel that he missed the mark by calling sheep stupid and blind flowers. If sheep are a metaphor for people I don’t consider my self stupid and I don’t feel like I am fallowing Christ blindly. I think most Christians might feel the same way. However the one part that I take away from his sermon is to remember to be like a sheep and be weary of those who will lead you astray.
After church when every one is drinking coffee and eating donuts. I was a brave sheep and approached the pastor with my Aunt Lyn and told him about my experience with sheep he was actually impressed he hadn’t met a real shepherdess before.