The Gentle Shepherd
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am GENTLE and HUMBLE in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 Amplified Bible)
How many of you have ever heard of Hermit Sheep? I learned about them from my husband as he shared his Sunday morning message with our fellowship group a few years back. Tony’s message was on the different kinds of sheep in the world and he tied it with our different relationships with Christ. The one that stayed with me until this day is the Hermit Sheep. Instead of telling you about them, I would like to share a story about a famous Hermit Sheep, named Shrek; I found on godvine.com.
Meet Shrek the sheep; he became famous a little while back for hiding out in caves by himself for six years. Because of his isolation, his fleece was never shorn. It grew and grew; by the time he was finally shaved, the amount of fleece that fell away from his body weighed sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing under ten pounds; sometimes it’s more, but never by much.
For six years, Shrek carried six times the regular weight of his fleece… all because he was away from his shepherd. This is reminiscent of John 10 when Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His followers are His sheep. If you think about it, Shrek the sheep is much like a person who knows Jesus Christ but has wandered. If we avoid Christ’s constant refining of our character (through fellowship with Him and sharing our hearts with Him), we’re going to accumulate the extra weight of this world (problems, sin, flesh) —a weight we don’t have to bear.
Christ can easily lift the burdens we bear, if only we stop hiding from Him. He can shave off our “fleece,” that is, our self-imposed burdens brought about by wandering from our Good Shepherd.
THE CALL OF THE GENTLE SHEPHERD
This article touched me deeply because I used to be Shrek, but you couldn’t tell with the naked eye. I did all of the religious things we were supposed to do, however, I served Him with external performance but I was hiding from Him in caves of activities, work, family, friends, television, and church. I wouldn’t give Him my whole heart, share my struggles, my fears, my sins, or my failures with Him because of fear of being punished. I know we see the Hermit sheep around us, the obvious ones. Those who used to go to church, pray, fellowship with us, but now are out in the world trying to have a good time and taking care of themselves in the strength of the flesh rather than in Christ. In I Corinthians 3:1, Paul calls these sheep, ‘carnal, babes, fleshly, or worldly-minded.’ They gave their hearts to Christ and was born-again, but they got distracted by the world, flesh, sin, and the evil one. Looking at these two groups of believers, which one is really lost; the last one or the first one? Both, but the dangerous thing is the first one like I was is hiding in the flesh and in the religious garb of externals. The Hermit sheep have been hiding so long, he doesn’t realize how far his soul has turned from the one who loves him most. But, our Gentle Shepherd sees Him and knows exactly what it will take to cause him to turn back into His arms of His rest and grace. Like the story of Shrek, someone came and found him, he didn’t even know how to return to his shepherd!
It is so easy to get distracted and to fix our eyes on our problems or resolve our own issues without Christ. Jesus called out to me in my cave of darkness and anguish many times. When I first heard His voice, I was scared and wouldn’t respond. But when I felt His gentle touch as He reached out for me, then I knew, He was not going to punish or hurt me; He just wanted to heal and restore me.
How many of our brothers and sisters are hiding from their Gentle Shepherd? Religion has painted a picture of how angry He is and when He sees us we will be punished. What a big lie! In all of my stinking stuff, even as a Christian, my Lord NEVER REJECTED me but brought me to His bosom to shear me and to restore my soul.
My heart goes out to all of my brothers and sisters living lives like Hermit Sheep. Jesus Christ, your gentle and humble shepherd lives within you. He is calling out to you! He is praying for you! He promised never to leave you or forsake you and He hasn’t… and never will. His heart hurts with yours and He wants to carry those heavy burdens you are carrying and carry you in His arms forever… if you would just let Him! Please let Him.
TURN TO HIM WITHIN YOU AND IN HIM ALONE WILL YOU FIND REST!