Larry was bored with the hillside where the flock grazed day after day. The grass was sparse and brown atop the hill. Larry knew there was much more to feast upon down in the lush valley on the other side. He’d seen a glimpse of the beautiful valley a few days ago when he’d wandered down the hill a bit. It was blanketed with the tallest, greenest grass he’d ever seen. His mouth watered at the sight. Near the end of the valley was a babbling brook with sparkling clear water. Huge shade trees were scattered all along the brook, perfect for a long afternoon nap. He wanted to explore further but the Shepherd had spotted him and tenderly picked him up and brought him back to the fold with gentle scolding.
The Shepherd wasn’t paying attention to Larry today, though. He, Papa and Mama lamb were goggling over Larry’s new little sister, Lovie lamb. Larry was just a wee bit jealous. He didn’t know what all the fuss was about! She wasn’t even a pretty lamb like him! She didn’t have his plump, snow white wool and her skinny little lags were wobbly. All she did was baa all the time and nobody got any sleep since she’d arrived. He just wished they would take her back to wherever Mama had gotten her.
Larry started to stray a bit further until he was at the edge of the flock, keeping one eye on the Shepherd so as not to arouse attention. Then one of the older lambs, Lester came to graze alongside.
“Hey Larry, I’ve been watching you. I know what you’re up to.”
“Why, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Larry replied sheepishly.
“Sure you do. You’ve seen the valley and you can’t wait to sink your teeth into it. How about we go together? You know the grass is greener on the other side of this old hill! We’ll be back before the Shepherd knows we’re gone. C’mon let’s go while He’s not watching!” And off he galloped.
Larry knew he shouldn‘t go. Lester was a big trouble-maker in the flock. The Shepherd was always correcting him. Larry was afraid, but he was excited too. He’d never felt this way before and his adrenalin was pumping. The visions of luscious green grass and cool waters was all he could think about. The temptation was just too great…....so off he went chasing after Lester.
As Larry started down the hillside, it was much steeper and rockier than he thought. Lester was already halfway down the hill and was laughing, calling Larry a slowpoke. The sun was closer to the horizon than he’d realized, too. That meant it would be nightfall soon. He must hurry if he was to get to the valley and back before dark.
The trek was slow, the terrain was rough. Larry was beginning to realize why the Shepherd brought the sheep back when they wandered this way. As he was making his way, he slipped and tumbled downward. His head hit a rock and he landed in a big thistle. He was entangled tight and try as he might, he couldn’t free himself. He searched for Lester but couldn‘t see him. Larry ached all over and his leg was bleeding from the thorns. He was scared and began to cry.
“Oh, why did I stray?” he whimpered. “The Shepherd will never forgive me.”
Suddenly, he heard the grass rustle and footsteps approaching. Then a loud howling. Larry froze. His heart stopped beating. It was a wolf! The Shepherd had warned him about wolves. Larry was terrified and knew he couldn‘t save himself. He was about to be the wolf’s supper! Silently, in his heart, he prayed:
“The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures .
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness,
For His namesake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me..…”
Just then the Good Shepherd bent and lovingly scooped Larry up pulling him close to his warm heart.
“Where have you been, my little lamb? You are injured, but I will make you whole. I have missed you so!”
“Baa” Larry was safe in the comforting arms of the Good Shepherd and he was very thankful. He vowed never to stray again.
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