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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Broken
By Shirley McClay


A whiff of breeze tickled my nostrils with the sweet scent of clover. I wandered away from the other lambs and lifted my nose to catch the tantalizing scent again. Ahhh… there it was. I followed it awhile before I found the patch the others hadn’t munched down. It was as tasty as it had smelled.

Another patch drew me a bit further, and then another. Oh, how wonderful! So much clover for just me! My tendency to be lost in my own little world often found me trailing the herd and stuck with the picked-over grass. This was a treat!

A far off sound caught my attention. I turned and looked back at the tiny specks on the hillside. Those specks were my herd! Oh my… I had wandered so far. Again. The Shepherd would be coming for me soon. He always came for me. I sighed and started to trudge back to join them.

But maybe this time… maybe I could have some fun before the Shepherd came. I decided to enjoy my few minutes of freedom. No ewes to criticize, no rams to glare at me, no other lambs to shove or tease me. I was free! I kicked up my heels and romped. The call came again but it was like a pesky mosquito buzzing in my ear. I gave my floppy ears a flip and leapt straight off the ground in pure joy.

I decided to see just how fast I could run without others to stumble me or slow me down. I raced up the hills and down the other side so fast I tumbled and rolled. I snatched at the clover as I ran. Never had my tummy felt so full.

Finally, thirsty and tired, I turned to find my friends. To my horror, the hills were bare of sheep when I turned around. No Shepherd stood with His staff and rod calling to me. I was alone and lost. I bleated and the mournful sound disappeared in the wind.

The wind! It was no longer a gentle breeze but a strong bluster with the scent of rain in it. I looked up at the sky where storm clouds were gathering on the horizon. Panic seized me and I ran blindly. All my silly running this day was nothing compared to how I ran now. My head was low, my ears pinned back, my nose stretched out. Terror nipped at my flanks like wolves.

A hidden cliff opened up as the ground in front of me disappeared. I dug in my heels and tried to stop but once again I was tumbling. A sturdy bush growing out of the side of the cliff snagged me just a few feet down. I didn’t dare move or even cry out. The sweet clover in my stomach tasted bitter.

That’s when it happened. The Shepherd’s staff reached over the cliff and the crook slipped around me. I was lifted up and into His arms. He held me so tight I could barely breathe and I kissed His dear face until He laughed and begged me to stop.

The storm was building and lightning flashed. He lifted his head from where it nestled in my baby wool. “We need to hurry, lamb. You must never stray so far again. Wolves were on your tracks and you nearly fell to your death.” He laid me on the ground and held me down. His face twisted in anguished as He lifted His rod. CRAACK. I screamed in pain as my leg bone broke. He gathered me into his arms and cuddled me as I whimpered and trembled in shock. His tears dampened my fleece. When I quieted He lifted my around His shoulders and carried me home.

Through the weeks it took for my leg to heal, the Shepherd carried me. He talked to me and shared His heart and His plans for me. They were plans to prosper me and not to harm me… plans for a hope and a future. I began to understand my foolishness and to trust in His wisdom. When my leg was healed and sturdy again, I no longer wanted to roam far from His side. I listened always for His voice and obeyed His commands. He kept me safe and, at my request, even found patches of clover for me.

Yes… that day was the worst I have ever experienced… yet the best thing that ever happened to me.

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This article has been read 771 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 06/07/09
This is a beautiful rendition of a familiar parable. LOVE the chastening that teaches, especially. Wow.
Colin Swann06/08/09
I did hear that in those days, in that region, the sheperd's did break legs. Very good story and well told and written. Thanks!
Loren T. Lowery06/08/09
This was difficult to read, which is a sign of good writing. And, I somewhat understand the principle involved and yet relating to it is not so easy. After reading your article, your title conveys a dual purpose that gives one much to think about.
Genia Gilbert06/08/09
This does sound a bit harsh, but I wonder how much sweetness in life we owe to the "breakings" of our loving and wise Lord? Well written.
Sonya Leigh06/09/09
I also thought the "legs" to be a harsh handling, but realized how many times I have likely thought the Lord's hand to be harsh on me when He was actually healing me. Very provocative and great detailed writing.
Laury Hubrich 06/09/09
We have to be broken before we can be 'fixed' if you'll let me use that expression. Awesome story. I could relate perfectly.
Bryan Ridenour06/09/09
Awesome story and wonderfully written. Nicely done.
Carol Slider 06/10/09
Wow, that was shocking! Not what I expected... which is probably a good thing. You took a familiar parable and added an extra dimension--real food for thought. Well done.
Mona Purvis06/10/09
Not easy to write when pain is present...but this is very well done. Imagine being a loving shepherd and doing this to "save" the lamb. I think we so often break God's heart and it results in "hard lessons" for us. But, to be loved so much....
Sara Harricharan 06/10/09
Wow! That's pretty much my reaction. I really, really like this one, Shirley! I think it's awesome. You didn't shy away from what made this real and you showed in great allegory form, the punishment and yet, still the better things to come afterwards. This is so well done! I LOVED it! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 06/10/09
I love how you told this. I appreciate your use of other scripture to back up this story ("plans to prosper me and not to harm me"). Your lesson is very good!
Allison Egley 06/10/09
Oh, I really like this. I think it worked perfectly. I could just picture the little lamb. Great job.
Seema Bagai 08/05/10
This is a vivid, well-written piece. I was taken aback by the punishment, though. However, I can see your point in including it in the story. Good work.
Benjamin Graber08/06/10
What a beautiful and moving allegory! I really enjoyed reading this!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/09/10
This is beautiful and such a wonderful lesson. I can see why it's one of your favorites.
Betty Castleberry08/17/10
Your descriptions are wonderful. As an animal lover, I cringed at the thought of the poor little lamb's broken leg. I understand the parable, though. Nicely done.
Rachel Phelps08/18/10
I love this story on so many levels! Masterful!