Instincts

Dumb As A Rock, Dumber Than A Speck Of Dust, Downright Brain Dead

Ed, my old neighbor, has an instinct for exaggeration. He doesn’t stop at describing someone, in only one way. He keeps magnifying his first description. He recently told me that a cousin of his was as dumb as a rock, then, later, he said his cousin was dumber than a speck of dust. Before he was done, Ed shared his cousin was down-right-brain dead. Ed uses the same exaggerations for sheep.

Obviously, Ed has no respect for sheep. When he skyped last, I was doing research on the sheepfolds for sheep that Jesus referred to in the Bible. The only thing Ed is impressed with concerning sheep is the excellent ability of dogs to herd sheep. He has a great respect for the Border Collie as a herding dog for sheep.

Ed has never raised sheep and he never will. He does not want any lamb chops, and woolen clothes make him itch. Ed accused sheep of having no fighting skills, as they run away from danger, but they are not fast runners. They cowardly hide in the flock hoping that some other sheep gets attacked and they don’t. Sheep need constant attention, unlike beef cattle that you can turn loose, and they will be safe on their own for days.  Ed cannot see why anyone would be raising defenseless, dumb, time-consuming sheep.

My old neighbor was not impressed that the Bible says we all are like sheep. It says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” When people flocked to Jesus for help, he said: “I will have pity on them for these people are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Sheep don’t necessarily stick near to the protection of the shepherd. They do not understand they are vulnerable, and much like a spider web, they can easily be struck down. Sheep eat poisonous plants, get lost, and forget they cannot swim. They lack a good homing instinct. They get out of sight of the herd and shepherd and cannot find their way home. They need to be found by the shepherd before a predator finds them.

Sheep aren’t dumb, but they do have an over-active herding instinct. They give into peer pressure as quickly as they eat grass. They follow the lead sheep even when the lead sheep is going the wrong way. How many people go along with the crowd and take drugs and end up addicted to them or dead from them? People often do something because others are doing it just like sheep.

People do not like to hear they are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Most see themselves as intelligent and in charge of their lives like a shepherd or a sheep dog. This view is right to some extent but our confidence is not in ourselves but God.  We are as defenseless as sheep when disease, accidents, disasters, and terrorist attacks grab hold of us. None of us can shake off death’s hold indefinitely. We do not have to be without God’s Good Shepherd given for all.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the gate or door to the sheepfold of God for the present and for heaven to come.

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Raymond Maher
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