Christian Living

Spiritual Life

A Crash Course in Shepherding

I’ve been reading A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. Even though my friend gave it to me a few years ago, it hasn’t been on my radar until recently.

Because within the span of four weeks, six lambs have been born on our farm.


Don’t judge.

When we purchased the first two ewes, the seller suggested they might be pregnant, but they weren’t. A few months later, we purchased two young females and a male. Six months old, the owner said.

Less than five months later, I received a call from my husband. I hopped up and down on our church stage at the shocking news.

“What’s wrong?” The music director looked alarmed as we practiced for Sunday morning.

“The youngest ewe we have is giving birth!” I shouted, clapping my hands.

What we didn’t expect, was five more to follow born almost exactly one week apart.

“Just call it ‘lambing Thursday,’” Tom added.

Let’s just say Tom and I have been taking a crash course in shepherding.

Thus, Keller’s book. It relates his sheep ranch and his care of them to our spiritual lives.

Sheep have no natural defenses except to flee from predators. They need protection. That is where Molly comes in. She is our Livestock Guardian Dog. Big, fluffy and friendly, besides guarding the chickens, instinctively, she raced toward the new-born lambs.

As our one-hundred-pound canine made a bee-line toward the baby to welcome it into the world,  the ewe stood erect, eyed our canine, and stomped her hoof.

That was her defense.


When I take over protecting my stuff or my reputation or my future, it’s kind of like a lousy stamp of my foot. In the end, there is nothing I can do to protect myself.

But I have a Good Shepherd. And He protects His sheep. Not from all harm—often this dumb sheep needs a good lesson and it can only be learned from failing. And I fail often.

But when I do, He always comes through. I am thankful for The Good Shepherd’s protection.

Sheep need provision, too. Our 8-acre pasture is green and hilly — full of sweet grass with fresh water available to them at all times. They have everything they need. Often, when I arrive home from work, I’ll see our small, contented flock grazing, or laying down. They have everything they need.

I have everything that I need too, sometimes I just don’t know it. Sometimes I want when I should be content.

1 Timothy 6:6 states,

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (NIV)

Recently, I have been thanking the Lord for not giving me what I want. As I look back, what I wanted was the exact opposite of what I needed. Only time and eternity will show how Our Good Shepherd provided for us — in spite of us.

Before the seat belt laws, as a youngster, when riding in the car with my bigger-than-life father, I’d lean against him and we’d sing. Our favorite was "There were Ninety-and-Nine." The song talks about Our Shepherd-King. He leaves his flock and travels a great distance to rescue a wandering sheep and rejoices when the foolish sheep is found.

That is me.

And He is my Good Shepherd.

Copyright © 2018 Pauline Hylton, used with permission.

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