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Inspirational Articles by Lygia Lovelace


The Cast Sheep
(from the Sheep Tales Series)
by Lygia Lovelace


The Shepherd heard her call. It was a desperate cry at first, but then it became weaker and weaker until it was only slightly louder than a kitten's mew…sad, lonely, hopeless. The Shepherd had to travel a long stretch of land to reach her, but He didn't seem to mind. With concern written on His brow, He journeyed across the steep hills and narrow valleys of her trying time.


Wolves howling in the distance did cause Him concern however. He knew they were after the ewe, ready to tear flesh away from flesh and to pick her bones apart. He knew there wasn't much time.


Then, He was there. She looked up at Him gratefully, knowing her life had been spared. Gently He lifted her and turned her over. The blood had left her feet and legs by now; she was unable to stand. So He embraced her, holding her firmly upright, causing the circulation to flow once again throughout her body. Encouragement pulsated through her. Her strength returned.


Her Master had come. He had saved her.


I've been on a "sheep kick" for several months now. I'm not sure what started it. Perhaps it was the sobriety of the sheep and goats passage in Matthew 25. Or maybe the peacefulness of Psalm 23 lured me to those still waters.


Whatever it was that inspired me, I began to look up every verse I could find on sheep and shepherds. What is the significance of sheep in the Bible? Why does the Father call us His sheep? Why is He the Good Shepherd? Who are the goats? Why is Jesus the Gate?


Then, sheep habits began to fascinate me: mothering-up, cast sheep, going under the rod, drinking the dew…the spiritual significance of these concepts have left me pondering…and changed.


I've decided. I just want to be a sheep.


Do you know what a cast sheep is? It is a sheep that has grown so fat from past feedings, or is in such dire need of a haircut, that her body has grown too large for her legs to support her. She rolls over helplessly on her side, and then she can't regain her footing. She is forced to remain there, belly up, feet cast to the side…


Oh, you can believe the predators have been watching. The coyotes, the hawks and buzzards are there, waiting for her strength to wane. They are sure they will soon gain a hearty feast: fresh lamb. They can't wait to devour one who has succumbed to the heaviness that surrounded her. They hover quietly, waiting for death to overcome her desire to live…


And sure enough, the precious ewe's cries are weakening. Until the Good Shepherd rescues her, just in time.


Do you ever feel like a cast sheep? What has caused this sudden lack of balance? This inability to stand?


Notice for the sheep, it is not the trial in her life. Hard times have not overtaken her so much that they have knocked her over! Unbearable grief has not stricken her mercilessly. My friend, it is not the circumstance…


It's the condition of her being. Don't you see? She is not able to stand the test because she has not taken care to protect her stance. Even a slight breeze will entangle her. She just simply…falls over.


Fortitude is a discipline, my friend. Growth in Christ is our responsibility. Day by day when we are grazing on the Word of God, the Good Shepherd uses it to feed us -- but we must then gain our exercise and fitness by DOING the Word -- living it out -- pointing the way to it. We simply must keep our hearts firm and strong so that when hard times come…


…we are not cast sheep.


You see, this sheep that is so precious to her Shepherd has eaten too much. This can occur, particularly after babies are born to the ewe. She becomes a little lazy, a little too preoccupied with her own desires. She grazes without much thought to the dangers…the predators that certainly are ever vigilant to her lack of attention.


Or perhaps her wool just needs trimming. A haircut is not fun for a sheep. Long wool is a snarly, tangly, heavy mess. Haircuts are invasive, a little frightening, and they require standing still. An active ewe feels she is just too busy, too preoccupied, to stand still.


But it's not much fun for the Shepherd either, you know. Cutting a sheep's wool is a smelly, dirty job. It takes time and careful attention. Ticks and pests must be destroyed, infestations must be discovered…it is a long process. And sometimes the sheep just doesn't want to cooperate. But the Shepherd is committed to the sheep.


It's not enjoyable…this cleansing process…but it is a necessary process, in order for the sheep to keep control of her footing: in case of hard times, in case of a fall, in case the predators come.


She must be strong. She must stand.


Sadly, some of the Good Shepherd's sheep are dying. They are starving out in the field. Did you know that? They can't exercise the Word of God because they don't have the energy…why? Why are they so weak?


Because they have simply forgotten to graze.


They are starving themselves on the poverty of the world, when the Word is there, in fields of green!


Oh, how the Good Shepherd grieves! His own flock refuses to eat. His own sheep pen -- the church of our nation…His very bride. Distracted by every other thing, she is wasting away into skin, and bones, and destruction.


Oh, how the predators rejoice! Oh how the enemy laughs when the sheep forget to eat. Not even a breeze of temptation will be needed to cast these sheep to depression, to fear, to bitterness and anger against a Holy Shepherd.


Oh, how the Shepherd grieves, standing there in the field, waiting for the weakening calls…


…of His cast sheep.


Are you hungry? Whether you are or not…


Feed. And exercise.


You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God,
declares the Sovereign Lord.
Ezekiel 34:31


Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.

James 1:22


Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
I Peter 5:7




Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com

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