The cries of two hundred ewes calling their lambs and the answering mewling reverberated off the Judean cliffs. Three flocks had spent the night enclosed safely within the briar-laced brush-walls of the sheepfold.
“Tahloo! Tahloo!” shouted a young shepherd standing in the gate. He walked away calling. His sheep frolicking and gamboling followed. They were going to pasture.
The remaining sheep darted about impatiently inside the enclosure, or stood stamping a foot, each listening for the voice of the one they loved. A stranger they would not follow. The timbre and pitch that make voices distinctive would not be the same as their shepherd’s, even if identical words were used.
Jesus, aware of this intimate, tender relationship between a shepherd and his sheep, referred to himself as the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep by name and they know his voice.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Chronologically Advantaged invited Tim to speak following a Friday noon luncheon at church. After swiping his lips with a napkin to remove cherry pie stain, he moved quickly behind the podium; a bright smile and sparkling brown eyes reflecting his love for those before him.
“I’m really glad to be here” he said, making eye-contact briefly with each person. “Last week I visited my Aunt Sue in an out-of-town nursing home. Sue wasn’t in her room so I decided to wait. There was a bowl of peanuts and her dentures on the table beside her bed, and her Bible.
“By the time she returned, I had eaten all her peanuts. I was so embarrassed. I assured her I would get her some more.
“’Oh, that’s alright Sonny’ she said, ‘Don’t bother – I just suck the chocolate off ‘em’”
When the groans and laughter subsided, Tim sipped a drink of water and gently placed the glass on the damp circle on the table cloth.
“My Aunt Sue has a terminal illness. When a person realizes they may never see you again, last words carry a message of importance. Jesus, you recall, after the resurrection, called his disciples to a meeting in Galilee. His final words we know as the Great Commission.
“Aunt Sue wanted to talk about her legacy. And I want you to think about yours. After inviting Jesus into her life about the age of ten, she followed her great Shepherd faithfully. She listened and she obeyed. She loved and she prayed. Her children and her children’s children follow in her footsteps. She leaves to each a tape recording of the memories of her life. Precious memories indeed.
“And she wanted me to know, as her executor, that she is leaving a modest inheritance to her grandchildren. After a tithe has been given to her church, and other percentages given to several Christian charities, her children receive the bulk of her estate.
“Remembering her church and these charities has top priority with Sue. She wanted you to know it. She said, ‘Tim, you tell those old codgers in your church that I love ‘em just like the one’s in my church. Tell ‘em, they have the same opportunity – that if they don’t have a will, to get one. Leaving something to their church and other good causes preaches a good message. My prayer for my family and theirs is that a legacy of giving will pass from generation to generation. You tell ‘em Tim, and maybe they will listen.’
“Well, I’m telling you just like Aunt Sue asked. If I didn’t, she’d find out and give me what-for. Did you listen with comprehension? Doesn’t her love for the Lord and others shine through? A final ‘Tahloo’ and Sue will depart. It won’t be long now. When our shepherd calls, Aunt Sue is ready. Her departing wishes are known. Are yours?”
Tim glanced toward the desert table. “Thanks for inviting me to be with you. Ya’ll are the best cooks in the church. If there is a piece of cherry pie left, I’m going to find it. Uh… who made the peanut brittle?”
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