Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)
By Shirley McClay
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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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