A young sheep has proved itself dangerously rebellious and independent. Continuously it goes into hazardous places, eating inappropriate foods, spurning the fellowship of the flock.
Soon the Shepherd will apply the old remedy. He takes the sheep and swiftly breaks one of its delicate legs. The sheep is stunned by this uncharacteristic behaviour. With low and soothing words and sounds the Shepherd sets the fracture and holds the patient effortlessly in his strong and capable arms, speaking affectionately to it.
In the days to follow, as the flock travels to one and another grazing place or refreshing stream, the Shepherd carries his charge on his shoulders and close to his heart. They are in constant communication. The little sheep observes his Master’s vigilance and service for the flock; his patience with the faltering; his resilience in changing weather; his sparing use of harsh words; his laughter at the gamboling antics of the little ones; his patient application of oil and herbal mixtures to alleviate a malady or the constant irritation of summer’s insects; his physical stamina; his predisposition to song or the wise old village adages. The sheep has come to realize that the beating heart beneath his mending frame is a heart of love.
The day arrives when the broken leg is healed. The Shepherd then applies a small bell around the sheep’s neck. The sheep takes this as a special gift from his leader-healer-friend.
Henceforth the “bell-weather” chooses to remain close to the Shepherd. Other sheep note the peculiar comfort and intimacy of their relationship. They fall in beside the ringing one. To be close to that sound is to be close to the safety, provision and growing delight of the Good Shepherd.
10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Doug Blair, Waterloo, Ontario