Since I last wrote we have been “there” to visit our wonderful son in Pasadena and it was just the best holiday. Now as we settle “back,” I can’t but help thinking of some of the costs…(WAIT, bear with me, I am not complaining)…It’s simply that the reality is that the cost of the flights, car hire, accommodation, travel insurance, visits to some of the touristy things, eating out, all add up. And into that reality, we know that we wouldn’t have spent one “cent” less if it had meant we didn’t get to see him. Why? Because while the touristy things were great, more than anything we got to walk in the spaces he walks in, to meet with some of the friends he has made, go to the church which he attends for fellowship, so that now, when he tells us of some specific place he is in this day, we can picture him there. In other words, his world has become much more real and tangible for me and his dad now. And somehow having this knowledge has helped greatly settle all our hearts, including his, because he knows now we understand some of his challenges, and more, so that if he in the future wants to speak of them, the sharing will be easier on all sides.
It got me to thinking about Easter and how it’s a bit like what Jesus did for us when He left heaven to walk this earth all for love’s sake.
Knowing Jesus knows has surely got to be one of the most settling things we get to hang on to. And at what a cost does His knowing of us come eh!
As I said we did lots of great touristy things from massive estate gardens to gentle prayer gardens. From museums and lofty cathedrals to barren canyon walks. However, one of my lasting memories apart from the manic busyness of LA, including its seven lane freeways will be what I chose to call the “visible invisibleness” of the homeless people about which I was left knowing that I could do nothing but pray, so pray I will.
Recently I’ve been drawn again to reading Psalm 23, so I looked up some of the “characteristics of sheep” which I’m going to share, leaving any spiritual application of the facts up to you.
To start, did you know that for sheep to lie down in peace four conditions must be met? 1)They have to be free from fears of predators on the outside. 2) They must be free from tensions within the flock. 3) They must be free from pests. 4) They will not lie down if they are hungry.
Some other facts worth considering…
- From birth, lambs are conditioned to follow older members, and indeed sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them, even when it’s not a wise thing to do!
- They have a wide-angled vision which allows them to see predators, and will also rarely walk in a straight line so that they can “spy” on any predators who may be approaching them from behind.
- They have an amazing tolerance for pain, knowing that if they show any weakness a predator will very quickly pick up on it.
- Their natural instinct is to flee and not to fight.
- Sheep are gregarious usually staying as a group, especially when grazing. Indeed if one sheep gets separated from the flock it can very quickly become agitated.
- If a sheep is hurt it will neither show resentment or resistance, once it knows it is in the hands of someone its trust.
- A sheep most calming influence? The presence of the shepherd, with affection for their shepherd even stronger than their affection for each other.
- If there is no active shepherd sheep will instinctively be drawn to follow one of the flock who is acting as a natural leader.
- And lastly, one of my personal favourite facts- Sheep are excellent dry weather animals and can go for weeks with access to drinking water, on one condition- that they are up early enough to eat dew-laden grass.
And so there you have it. A delightful collection of “sheep facts “for you to maybe ponder and consider when next you are drawn to read Psalm 23.
And so we pray…
Father, thank you. Thank you for paying the cost in full so that we might be known of, and by you. Thank you for walking in the spaces we walk in so that we are now assured that you understand all of our humanness, and all of our frailties and fears. Make us, who are likened in scripture over and over to being as sheep, ever wise in turning to you as our perfect Shepherd. Thank you that when we sometimes really don’t know what to “do” we can always pray, and so Lord this day, for any who may have wandered away, please search them out and bring them safe home once more we ask in Jesus name. Amen
Yours in Him,