[Papercut Press Publishing]1999-01-11 - The Herculean Task of Sheepness

Isaiah 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all, to fall on Him.

"It was an extraordinary event for me. I've never experienced it," said Michael Blake, a farmer in Western Victoria, Australia for over 40 years. He was describing the behavior of one of his sheep named Hercules. Hercules was abandoned at birth, but adopted by a cow on the farm. The cow supplied Hercules with milk and now Hercules believes he is a calf himself. Hercules only hangs out with the farm's bulls.

Call this a parable, allegory, or modern day metaphor, but what we have here is a sheep that lives where it doesn't belong. This is a parable for all of us. We all either are, or have been those who live or have lived where we do or did not belong.

Scripture recognizes us as sheep over and over. We are often likened to sheep who go our own way. Sheep get lost (Ps. 119:176, Matt. 15:24, Luke 15:6 1 Peter 2:25), need a shepherd (Matt. 9:36, John 21:16), and are vulnerable (Matt. 10:16).

In a sense we all are one of two kinds of sheep and metaphorically there are really only two kinds of sheep. One kind of sheep is that which is still lost, the other is one which has been found.

The sheep that lives with the cows on the farm in the story we started with is still a lost sheep. There is coming a time when Hercules will be weaned from the cows and put back, where he belongs, into the heard of other sheep.

And though many of us are sheep that are now living in the flock of God, we often live like we are not of that fold. There are many times when we act like Hercules and run with the bulls when we really belong with the sheep.

The message of the gospel is the we do not need to run with bulls any longer, but rather we may join with and fellowship with those who, like us, have been renewed by grace. We often behave otherwise, and stray like sheep, but the shepherd awaits and eagerly seeks our return to the fold. May God grant us grace to see the herculean task of following Christ through to the end of our lives.

"Holiness has love for its essence, humility for its clothing, the good of others as its employment, and the hounour of God as its end." Nathanael Emmons

Soli Deo Gloria,