Welcome to "My Beloved Shepherd Blog" where I'm sharing my personal meditations on Psalm 23 in the Bible. Today we're looking at another sheep and Shepherd story from the Bible. You can find it at Luke 15:1-7
I'd like to introduce you to Mimi. She's a pretty girl, isn't she? With her sad green eyes and her cute white paws, she's just begging to be petted. But if you took even a single step toward her, she'd flee in an instant, driven by fear and a strong survival instinct.
Maybe she reminds you of a cat you had years ago and you would love to bring her into your home so you could love and care for her. You remember how much love your cat gave you, purring, cuddling, and looking into your eyes with pure devotion.
But Mimi can never love you. Or let you touch her, or even get close to her. There were a few weeks after she was born, where she could have easily learned to love and live with humans. But she was a feral kitten; her mom was a feral cat, living outdoors and separated from human care.
Mimi looks just like any other cat, doesn't she? She seems calm and at rest, even posing for her photo. But inside she is on high alert. She's halfway to fight or flight. Her muscles are taunt and poised, ready to spring into action to run for her life at the least sign of danger. Poor Mimi, she spends most of her life running and hiding.
I look like a human being. I eat pizza, drink margaritas, sleep in a bed, go shopping. But inside, I am on high alert, halfway to flight or fight. And I do run for my life at the least sign of danger. I have spent most of my life running and hiding. I am a feral person.
When a child grows up in a hostile home, where she lives in chronic fear and trauma, it can rewire her brain. The normal human functions don't work right anymore.
Just like the feral cat who missed that window of socialization, she too is locked into her dysfunction. This is Complex PTSD in a nutshell. It's a powerful, long-term malady.
Jesus told a story of a shepherd, he called him the Good Shepherd. This shepherd had a hundred sheep. Here's what a flock of a hundred sheep look like.
Shepherds have to be on the look-out all time if the sheep are on open graze land with no fences holding them in, because they will wander off. Even today, in modern sheep farming, this is a big problem that costs the farmers thousands of hours of searching for lost sheep.
In the story, the good shepherd discovered one of his sheep was missing. And he probably knew exactly which sheep it was. Because shepherds know their sheep. They name each one and know their personality and where they fit into the social structure of the flock.
Maybe he shook his head and said, "that Tilly, she's always the one." He knew that she was defenseless out there, easy pickings for a predator. Sheep wander off, get disoriented and can even panic. They are very fearful and will run blindly at the least sign of danger. Sometimes, a whole flock of hundreds of sheep will panic and jump off a cliff to their death.
The good shepherd had to act fast. He left the 99 and went to search for Tilly. He backtracked, looked in thickets and behind boulders, calling her name and whistling his "come home" tune. He slid down into gullies and climbed hills. Every few minutes, he would stop and listen. Finally, he heard Tilly's pitiful cry for help. The shepherd's heart soared with joy! She was alive and close by.
She had climbed up onto a ledge and had no idea how to get down. Poor girl, she was terrified. The shepherd pulled her to safety and wrapped his arms around her.
"Tilly, Tilly, Tilly! I'm so happy you're alive!!! And now you're safe."
Great little story with a happy ending, right? Not yet.
Tilly was not okay. She was shook up, maybe still a little panicked. And she could have been injured. The good shepherd picked her up, all 100 pounds of her, and wrapped her around his shoulders - with joy! With joy! Let that sink in a moment. Then, he took her home, not back to the flock. She needed care, quiet and safety.
Then, he ran up and down the street, shouting to everyone, "I found my lost sheep! I found my lost sheep!" Let's have a party! Jesus told all the people listening, this is a very big deal because it shows the great joy God feels when a lost person is rescued and brought back home to safety.
As a feral person, I am often just as lost as Tilly. I wander away from the good shepherd. I panic and jump off a cliff. I run and hide. Just the other day, I was journaling - and crying. I wrote, "There is no safe place for me on this earth."
Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd."
He found me. He is constantly finding me! Can you relate to that?
When he finds me, it gives him great joy. Do you feel that, that you give the Lord great joy? I want to experience his joy in rescuing me.
Then, he takes care of me, attends to my wounds, nurses me back to health. Next, he reunites me with the flock.
I have been lost from myself, from him and from the flock pretty much my whole life. He is gently, wisely and supernaturally restoring all that. I shouldn't be tamable at this point, but he is taming me - even re-wiring my brain to function better. I don't think I'll probably ever be normal, whatever that means. Anyway, just who gets to decide what IS normal? Right???
Are there areas in your life where - if you let yourself think about it - you are lost?
How are you being restored, rewired back to functionality, or even tamed so you can rejoin the flock and be a part of a true, loving relationship.
Safe and at peace.