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  • Writer's pictureC. Kershaw

Sassy Lamb

When I was a little girl, I often had to go to bed early. The reasons behind this mandate seemed somewhat questionable to me, but I believe there were times everybody got tired of me asking questions and giving suggestions! Anyway, it was still daylight when I was in bed, and I could clearly see the picture of Jesus as a Good Shepherd that hung on my wall. Jesus was depicted with his staff, in a beautiful green, verdant valley, surrounded by all kinds of sheep. In his arms was a little lamb. I just knew that lamb was me–the look on the lamb's face confirmed it. She had a distinct expression--definitely a sassy one. That was me. So much of what I thought I knew and was sure of would prove wrong.  Yet at that point, I was just like that lamb.  Her face belies an attitude soaked in sass; “Why in the world was I picked up?  I was on a path that was working for me.  Hello–it’s not like I need a shepherd!”

Why so sassy? When I was young, I felt pretty self-sufficient.  Honestly, some of the same issues I had then I still struggle with now. I think I know the right way to go, and the path that’s best for me. I like to have comfort along the way. I long for freedom to do things the way I think they should be done, and believe they’ll turn out according to my plan. Lambs don’t have a wildly comprehensive perspective.

This state of mind in man is common. Ignorance and naivete drives us to believe we know more than we do. The process of growing and maturing is actually the process of understanding how little we know. When our reliance on ourselves fades, faith can grow. That’s why the message of Hebrews 11 resonates with me. Hebrews 11 is filled with individuals like Noah, Moses, Rahab, and Sarah who think they know one thing and are suddenly confronted with something else. Their desire to manage life and operate out of their own strength had to be abandoned. In light of life’s brokenness, they chose to rely on God and God alone. That meant abandoning self, and giving up the sassy lamb stance. That's how it worked for me too.

I grew up on a livestock farm. We did not raise sheep, but there was a farm a couple miles away that did. In the spring, I'd make my way over there to watch the newborn lambs frolic in the pasture. They would chase each other around in a circle until they all literally fell down in exhaustion. How like us!  Sheep can only focus on what’s right in front of them, so they’re easy to lead astray. My dad, who knows about every farm animal of consequence, tells me sheep will  follow each other right off the side of a cliff. If you put sheep in the corner of a pasture that is dry and barren with lush green grass and good grazing on the other side, the sheep will not find good food. They do not even know how to graze into good health. They must be led. Sheep are followers who can only focus on one thing–the tail or robe in front of them.

As I got past the sassy lamb stage, I began to grow as a follower. Of course, there are times I have questions, and my Shepherd is happy to hear them. He can see into the distance of my life with a unique, divine perspective. I lack His vision, but have learned to focus on the back of His coat. As I get older, there’s comfort in that.  As I continue to surrender my will to Him, I learn to trust Him. He promises to lead me on paths of righteousness. This sassy lamb knows she can’t find them on her own. They're only accessible through Him, paid for and paved by His blood.

The fight we face against the brokenness in this world changes when we decide to trust the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and follow.  Anxiety and depression shrink in response to our faith in His ability to lead.  When we don’t understand why something has happened or struggle with our sin in a situation, it’s common to turn away. We look internally, checking our wool to see if it's matted in a weird way or there’s something else we can blame. Instead of looking for our Shepherd and listening for His voice, we let the world tell us what we should have, who we ought to be, and what we should rightfully expect. This results in disorder, ingratitude, and the anxiety and depression that often grow from it.  We're like sheep stuck in a dry corner of the pasture. We know there's good grass somewhere, but we just can't find it. 

How do you check a rebellious, sassy nature? Focus on God’s omnipotent sovereignty. Take a long look at the ways God calls His people. He calls them to trust when they don’t understand. He calls them to give when they don’t feel comfortable. He calls them to glorify His name in every and all circumstances. He calls them to remember He is with them. Most of all He calls them to acknowledge the exclusivity of His leadership. 

Ephesians 3:20-21 helps me understand who God is; “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”

That kind of Shepherd inspires me to drop the sass, focus on the back of His robe, and follow.

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