The dim rays of the early morning light faintly lit the lush grass that grew along the cliff, causing the dew covered blades to sparkle like crystals. The bellowing of lambs could be heard off to the right of the bluff. Among the flock of shaggy white sheep, stood a tall, well built, olive-skinned man, dressed in a dusty white robe. His eyes had been constantly scanning the tree line in a slow back and forth, left to right motion, but now his eyes were fixed on a single spot near the opposite end of the meadow.
The shuffling of branches and the snapping of twigs had caught his attention. His eyes began to shift nervously between the swaying limbs and his flock of precious sheep.
He then began coercing those of his flock that had wandered too far away, back to a safe position within the group. After he had gently tugged the last sheep into safety with his wooden staff, he once again set his eyes to the disturbance across the field. The vegetation along the edge of the woods continued to shake, now even more violently than before. The culprit was approaching closer to the open meadow.
While nervously starring at the swaying branches, a familiar noise rang in his ears. The sound belonged to a small lamb that stood motionless near the center of the grassed area. Its bleating filled the air with an eerie melody. At once the Shepard left his flock to retrieve the one frightened lamb that now stood alone. He gently lifted the awaiting lamb, embracing it in his muscular arms. As he held the feeble little lamb against his chest, he gingerly walked back to his flock, whispering words of comfort into its ears.
Once certain that each member of his flock now stood behind him and out of immediate danger, he laid down his staff and grabbed his bow and quiver of arrows that he had placed beneath a large Dogwood tree that grew nearby. As he reached into his quiver, a thunderous explosion sounded across the way.
His eyes grew twice their size at the sight of the snarling brown beast that quickly darted from the shady tree line. Massive fangs hung from its foaming mouth like pink stained daggers, poised to sink into the tender flesh of his helpless sheep.
The Shepard stood trembling, with one hand still in his quiver, grasping a thin arrow, and the other firmly clenched around the handle of his bow. He quickly shut his eyes and aloud he said, “Father, give me the strength to protect my sheep”. With those words, a sudden burst of adrenaline surged through his body. In one brief moment, he loaded the arrow, pulled back the string, and had now zeroed in on the speeding nemesis that had him in its sights as well. He noticed that his hands held the bow perfectly still, and the pounding in his chest had receded to a mere vibration. A since of calm had swept over him.
With the release of the three fingers that firmly held the string, the flimsy wooden arrow propelled through the air like a missile. Its flight was straight, sending it crashing into the furry chest of its target with a giant thud. Almost instantly, the beast crumbled to the ground sending dirt and grass through the air. The victim’s momentum caused it to skid on its face through the soft soil, stopping only feet from where the Shepard stood.
“Jesus”, a women’s voice echoed through the field.
The Shepard heard the call and looked in the direction that the voice had entered from. The familiar voice sounded once again. “Jesus, supper’s ready…come wash up!” This time the words quickly sprung the Shepard out of his world of make-believe and back into the world of reality.
“Yes ma’am”, the young boy answered, as he dropped the crooked stick that he had held in his hand. “Coming mother”, he spoke again, as he galloped home across the arid sand on a wooden stick pony. The same stick pony that his dad had built for him in his wood shop a few days earlier.
“He tends his flock like a Shepard.
He gathers the lambs in his arms
And carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young.”
Isaiah 40:11 NIV
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