Unruly Sheep Feeding Each Other

“At a point later in the year I observed a paddock with two mature ewes with rather thick necklaces of twisted hay. These stubborn ewes, I was told, had taken a disliking to one another in the field and were almost incessantly butting and harassing each other. These edible Elizabethan-style ruffs of hay were the only source of food in the pen, so if the battling ewes wanted to feed they had to get up close and nuzzle, ultimately developing a bond of familiarity” (Craeft, Alexander Langlands 73).

It’s happened more than we care to admit. We decide we don’t like someone. Then Providence pushes us together in a way that we have to rely on each other.

We come to see the “adversary” in a new light. A bond forms.

In the church, that’s community. Imperfect, sometimes ugly. Yet a community, ideally, that feeds its members.

Sheep crave community. Even if it means building a bond with an adversary. The wise shepherd puts the unruly sheep in a situation where they must feed each other so they can both return to the flock.

Craig Rogers says, “Although many think of their flocking instinct to be a sign of “dumbness,” it is in fact a community-based survival mechanism where they have learned that their strength is much greater in numbers and their comfort and survival is enhanced as a group rather than as an individual. Not a bad lesson for all of us.”

Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord[ais not easily brokenEcclesiastes 4:9-12 (NABRE).

Remember that Christian who irritates you? Offer some food–figurative or real–and try to get comfortable as an ally in faith. And how about that neighbor who’s a non-believer? That’s someone outside the flock, perhaps a wounded spirit just waiting for an invitation.

Like sheep wearing food around our necks, we carry the Bread of Life with us.

The lost sheep live among and around us. And we are the only ones who can invite them to come home.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Republished from February 19, 2019

20 Replies to “Unruly Sheep Feeding Each Other”

  1. I’ve come to understand “enemies,” or people I dislike, are in my life for a reason. I grow and learn and glorify God when I finally let go of my anger/dislike and embrace them.

  2. What an uplifting and powerful message so needed right now! Since we need one another so desperately, this time of isolation requires us to reach out and find face to face methods, say via Zoom, Facebook Live, Facetime, or whatever method we can find to look at one another face to face. We need to reach out via text and phone call. The longer we’re apart, the more our lack will become acute. We need to feed of the necklace of hay wrapped around the neck of the others.

  3. I love the image of the early church – when they leaned into suffering, feed the widows and children, and shared what they had. This is the image we are being called to and as you write Nancy, if we follow Christ we are called to exemplify the way he entered into other’s suffering to feed and comfort . “Like sheep wearing food around our necks, we carry the Bread of Life with us. The lost sheep live among and around us. And we are the only ones who can invite them to come home.”

  4. Good idea to help make peace with those difficult people around us. Thanks for sharing your encouragement.

  5. Simple. Powerful. True. What an important reminder, Nancy! Our community-based survival instincts were planted in us by our Creator and Shepherd. May we have eyes to see all who need us to reach out for them. The lost sheep need us more than ever.

    1. This message hits home to me….. in these times of heightened stress, even loved ones can sometimes become adversaries. We so need community; isolation kills sheep.

      1. It is especially hard now. Those we live with can seem too close. And those we rely on but don’t live with too far away. Isolation is hard. A real test. Thanks, Candice. God bless!

  6. I didn’t know this about sheep, “The wise shepherd puts the unruly sheep in a situation where they must feed each other so they can both return to the flock.” And, yes, there is strength in numbers and uniting together.

    1. I hadn’t known it either. There are so many jobs in the world that we think we understand. Shepherding seems simple. But a wise shepherd becomes so with a great deal of knowledge and experience. Not so simple. Thanks, Karen. God bless!

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