by Jill Larsen
Once there was a Great Shepherd. He loved and protected his sheep.
One day the Great Shepherd had to go away, so he carefully found someone to take care of his sheep until he returned.
No sooner had the Great Shepherd left on his journey, when a wolf came and talked to the new shepherd.
“Shepherd,” he said, “for years we’ve been at war with the sheep, but we would like to be your friends. We don’t want to fight anymore. Let’s live in peace.”
Thrilled, the shepherd agreed. Just wait until the Great Shepherd comes back, he thought, he’ll be so impressed.
For days, all was well and peaceful. But then a bleating of sheep drew the shepherd’s attention. A wolf was in the middle of the sheep pen.
“What’s going on?” the shepherd asked.
“This wolf wants to live here. With us!” the sheep huffed, obviously upset.
“I don’t see the problem with that,” the shepherd said. “The wolf and I have come to an agreement. He’s willing to live peacefully.”
The sheep bleated their protests, but the shepherd just gave a self-satisfied smile and walked away. Change is always hard for some, he thought, but this is progress.
It wasn’t long before the sheep adjusted to the wolf. More wolves came, and before long, except for a few old-fashioned sheep who built their own little hiding place and moved off by themselves, the wolves and the sheep lived together as friends.
The shepherd built a comfortable home for himself and put his feet up. Now that there was peace, the wolves could protect the sheep and he could relax.
When a group of sheep came to him one day, he half-heartedly listened to their concerns. They worried about their lambs, stating the wolves were seen to be drooling when around them. When the parents approached the wolves, the wolves snarled at them. The parents were terrified and very concerned for their children.
The shepherd knew it was just a misunderstanding. After all, they had a peace agreement. But he decided to talk to the wolves anyway.
When confronted, the wolves said, “Well, we have found ourselves hungry at the sight of those tasty looking lambs.”
“But we made an agreement,” the shepherd reminded them.
“True,” said the wolf, “but that was with the sheep. There were no lambs then. So they aren’t part of the agreement. If we can have the lambs to eat, we won’t hurt the adult sheep.”
With a sick feeling, the shepherd suddenly realized his mistake. By now the wolves were scattered throughout the sheep pen, and to try to get rid of them would be too difficult. If he tried to get rid of the wolves, they would kill him and all of the sheep. Besides, many of the sheep were friends with the wolves now, would they even mind losing a few lambs? Now what? Should he sacrifice the lambs for the sake of peace? Or should he fight and lose a few sheep? What a predicament, no matter what he did, someone would get hurt. He made an agreement with the wolves to give him one night to decide what he wanted to do.
Then he thought of the old-fashioned sheep. The ones no one had wanted to listen to, that had gone off and built their own little safe place. Would there be enough room in there for all of them? He decided to go and see.
Ashamed, he approached the old-fashioned sheep. Everyone had been so unkind to them, would they even listen?
With shouts of joy, the sheep bleated for the shepherd to come in and see their safe place. “We made it with enough room for everyone,” they told him cheerfully. “We knew this day would come.”
“How soon can they move in?” the shepherd asked, still too ashamed to say sorry.
“Right away! The sooner the better!” the sheep replied.
The shepherd left immediately, and quietly began to sneak the lambs one by one into the safe place. Until he got to one young sheep, snuggled up against a wolf. “I’m not going over there with those bigoted and hateful sheep!” he cried. “They don’t tolerate the wolves who are our friends. I’m more accepting and would never want to be as hateful as them.”
His loud words had brought a crowd, and the wolves began to snarl while some of the sheep remaining huffed in dignity. Other parents with their little lambs snuck over behind the shepherd.
A wolf approached the shepherd, “What were you going to do, shepherd? Try to sneak them away overnight? These sheep are ours. We made an agreement, remember?”
The shepherd stammered. Trying to think of what to say or do, he was shocked when seemingly out of nowhere something hit the wolf and sent him flying through the air. Turning, the shepherd watched in amazement as the Great Shepherd, who had just returned, boldly took on wolf after wolf, sending them yelping and limping away. Sadly, some of the sheep looked angrily at the shepherds and followed them.
Meanwhile, a great cheer went up as the sheep came running to the Great Shepherd. “Our rescuer!” they bleated.
A great feast was held in honor of his return, though some mourned the loss of their foolish sheep friends who had run away with the wolves.
“They’re deceived,” the Great Shepherd told them sadly, “Even if I tried to bring them home, they would only resent me and run away again. But don’t worry, when they finally realize their folly, some of them will escape and come running back to us. And what a day of rejoicing that will be!”
The shepherd bowed before the Great Shepherd, “I am so sorry for what I have done to your flock.”
The Great Shepherd gravely touched the shepherd on the head, “I am sad to see what happened. It took only one decision to change everything. If you had stood your ground when the wolf first came, none of this would have happened. The battle is over now, you are forgiven. Go in peace.”
The shepherd learned his lesson the hard way. Never again would he forget to stand his ground.
“….God keep our land, glorious and free, Oh Canada we stand on Guard for thee…”
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
*The shepherd of the flock here is not a particular pastor of any church, but it refers to the church today that isn’t standing its ground. And the wolves are the little bits of sin that we have let into our lives, and into our families.