"All We Like Sheep"
“All We Like Sheep”
By Dr. Larry Guthrie
We raise sheep at Harvest Home Farm and the longer we keep them the more we learn about them and the more we learn about them the more we are convinced that Isaiah was right when he said, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” It seems that our sheep always want what is on the other side of the fence. If there is a way they can escape from their pasture they will find it. And once outside their fence they get lost, they can’t find their way back.
Not long ago I was feeding several ewes and their new born lambs. We keep a ewe and her lambs in the barn, confined to small pens called “jugs” for the first few days to help them bond with one another. When I put hay in the first jug, the first ewe eagerly started eating and the second ewe in the second jug wiggled her head through the slats to eat the hay in the first jug. She wanted what she didn’t have. When I put hay in the second jug, the first ewe turned from her hay to wiggle her head through the slats to reach the hay in the second jug. She too wanted what she didn’t have. And so it was. As I put hay in each of the jugs, every ewe had its head through the slats eating the hay on the other side. The hay was all the same, but they all wanted what their neighbors had more than they wanted what I had given them.
The strangest thing of all occurred when I started cleaning out the last of the jugs. We had turned out a ewe and her lambs and I needed to clean the pen to receive new lambs that had just been born. As I wheeled the load of disgusting urine soaked hay past the first several jugs, the ewes abandoned their fresh hay and struggled to grab a bite of the contaminated hay simply because they didn’t have it.
We are all so much like sheep. We too want what we don’t have. We want what our neighbors have. We are willing to forsake the good that the Good Shepherd provides for the not so good that the world has to offer simply because we don’t have it. It is no wonder that the Psalmist wrote “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1) Put another way “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want more than He supplies.” This issue of contentment is so critical that God even included it as one of the Ten Commandments saying, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20: 17) And Paul wrote “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
I’m convinced that after the issue of salvation, one of the most pressing issues parents need to learn themselves and teach to their sons and daughters is the issue of contentment. We must learn to live within what God, our Good Shepherd provides. We must learn, like Paul, to get along with humble means and also to live in prosperity without wanting even more. We must learn to live with plenty when the Lord provides abundance and we must learn to live with hunger when He chooses to limit our resources. It is simply a matter of living within whatever pasture the Lord leads us to.
The issue is certainly not new. Adam and Eve struggled with it too. (Genesis 3:1-6) God had given them every fruit in the garden. Yet they wanted what they didn’t have. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge looked good and was a delight to the eyes. However, God, their Good Shepherd had already provided them with everything they needed. The real temptation was that Adam and Eve wanted what they didn’t have. They wanted to be something that they weren’t. They wanted what God had not given them. Instead of being content to be with God, something they experienced every day, they wanted more. They wanted to be God.
Cain struggled with the same issue. He wanted what his brother Able had. Able had the approval of God. Cain didn’t have that approval so he became angry. (Genesis 4:3-8) Cain wanted what he didn’t have and for Cain that desire became sin and led to the murder of his brother. Even David wanted what he didn’t have. He wanted another man’s wife. (II Samuel 11:1-27) For David, the desire to possess what God had not provided also led to sin. That same desire leads you and me into sin even today.
My prayer for each one reading this is quite simple. I pray that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, would give you the grace to lie down in His green pastures, that you would be content to walk beside His still waters, and that you would desire to walk in His paths of righteousness. In other words, I pray that you would want no more than He provides. After all, He is the Good Shepherd and knows what we need even before we ask. (Matthew 6:33-34)
Note: This and other “Teachable Moments” from Harvest Home Farm make up a series of lessons called “Food For Thought from Harvest Home Farm.” These one minute teachable moments present a lesson from the farm, a biblical insight, and a personal application all in just one minute. The series is available on three audio CDs. Each CD contains 60 lessons for a total of 180 teachable moments from the farm. The series allows a family to listen to and “digest” one of these morsels each day, five days a week, for a whole school year.
Dr. Larry Guthrie officially transitioned to full time staff at Harvest Home Farm on July 1, 2007, from the Director of Educational Ministries at Camp Forest Springs in Westboro, Wisconsin. His primary responsibility there was the Leadership Training and Development Program. He was also involved in developing curriculum for family camps, youth camps, and follow-up ministries. At Harvest Home Farm, Larry is responsible for teaching and developing curriculum for the Farm School. Larry is a former research assistant and writer for the Institute in Basic Life Principles. He has worked on such publications as “Character Sketches” volumes III and IV and the “Eagle Story.” He also wrote science and medical curriculum materials for the Institute’s home education program, The Advanced Training Institute of America. Dr. Guthrie is the former director of the Children’s Institute which offers character training and instruction in basic Biblical principles to children ages 6-12. Over the past 10 years, these week-long children’s seminars have enrolled over 175,000 children in 50 cities and 8 foreign countries. Dr. Guthrie also served as Director of Curriculum Development for Character First! Ed. Dr. Larry Guthrie is a graduate of the University of Illinois and taught seven years as a public school science teacher before becoming a Professor of Education at Indiana University Northwest. Larry and his wife Lois have been married for over 40 years and have two married children and seven grandchildren.