Archive for January, 2012


The Lamb of God

Currently, we have four lambs running about here. Two of the ewes dropped sets of twins in the last couple of days, and there are two ewes to go. Carey and I took advantage of a sunny patch this afternoon to take a look at them. One of those ewes doesn’t look like she’s pregnant, but it would be her first. Maybe she’s psyching us out. The lambs are, of course, adorable, and their mothers aren’t too bad, either.

The current set sure is more friendly than the set we had at first. Jemima, Goldie, and Cider were old Shropshire ewes used to living pretty much on their own out in the field. They didn’t much like having people around, and they especially didn’t like being handled. Working with them… well, it was certainly made for several memorable experiences, shall we say? It made me much better able to understand that “all we like sheep have gone astray.” I don’t do much with the current set, who would be Lily, Cutie Pie, She-Hulk, and Tiger Lily, but I don’t have to see that they are much more friendly. They don’t back off, stamp a foot, snort, roll their eyes, and defiantly pee when people approach. Instead, I heard much excitement in the baas greeting me. The pigs… er, sheep were hoping for grain. The really hilarious thing is I discovered that Cutie Pie had her own supply in her pen, but she didn’t want it. She expected me to stand there and feed her by hand. I came back with sheep slobber all over one hand.

As I said, the lambs are adorable. They always are. Lambs as a type are my favorite baby. I do apologize to my friends who have had babies – your babies as individuals are all adorable, too. It’s just that lambs in a group are my favorite. They’re long legged, tail waggers full of curiosity and very little fear who play and play and play and eat and sleep and play. They bounce. They spring. They bound. They seem to defy the laws of physics in their action sometimes. They slip through the cracks of the fence to merrily run amok in the yard while their mothers stand anxiously at the fence calling for their wayward offspring. They’re full of (mostly harmless) mischief. They parade about pretending to be big, fierce sheep (mostly an oxymoron) and then freak over a leaf skittering through the middle of their small flock. They make me laugh. I can watch the silly hooligans for hours.

More than one time this afternoon, I smiled thinking about the antics this crop of lambs will probably pull in the next couple of months as they explore. Lambs are great.

And then I got to thinking that Christ is the Lamb of God. He is identified as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist in John 1:29. The book of Revelations also favors that name. Jesus is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” When I’ve thought of Jesus as the Lamb of God, I realized today, it’s always been tinged with the color of sacrifice. It’s been white bleeding red running black. Lambs, perfect ones, in the Old Testament were used as sacrifices. They had to be without blemish, without defect, and their deaths were an important part of many of the Temple feasts and ceremonies. I’m sure there is a load of symbolism in it that I don’t fully understand, and I’m not going to try to this day. What I do understand is that we all fall short of the glory of God, and that Christ’s sacrifice somehow took away the sins of the world and made relationship with God possible. That’s a sobering, disarming, heavy with holiness, weeping with joy kind of understanding. I am saved. I’m so grateful for my salvation.

But I wonder. I wonder. Don’t you? Is it only in the sacrifice – in death, in life offered for others – in which Christ is identified with lambs, or does the infectious joy and the delight with which I smile to see lambs living also mark Christ’s living?

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Back to My Roots

I woke up this morning grumpy. My back hurt, I didn’t want to go to work, and I could hear the rain pouring and the wind howling outside. Grumpy doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, does it? I’ve noticed the last couple of days that I’ve had to watch my attitude. Grumpy is coming easily. A little bit of grumpy is no big deal, but chronically grumpy sours into bitterness, and that’s not how I want to live out my life.

What can make it hard is that I have some legitimate complaints. I’ve been in pain, often a considerable amount of it, almost constantly for about three months. Pain, I’m finding, is a wearing and exhausting thing with which to live. Besides the fact that it hurts, it grinds on me. It makes me feel weaker. I’m always devoting a fair amount of energy to living with it. I also feel guilty about it. It’s been three months, and I’ve been cooperative with my plan of care. Shouldn’t I all better by now? What am I doing wrong? I’m not, by the way. Apparently, some of the damage done can take six months to heal, but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make me feel great when I’m feeling down about it. I still hurt. I still feel weak and guilty. I’m still angry over the unfairness. I’m still being disappointed in my desire to be better, and that makes it easy, easy to feel all grumpy, and then to be snarky and sour, and then… You see how this goes, right? Somehow, I need to allow myself room to be in pain and to have reason for complaint without allowing it to eat me alive.

This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve had something hard and unfair. I learned some things from those prior experiences that I’m finding helpful now. One is that I do need to watch my attitude. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that. I didn’t watch it very well which meant that I had some difficult messes to clean up when I started dealing with the reality that I’d suffered childhood abuse. Another is that I need to leave myself room for the legitimate pain and emotional turmoil I’m experiencing. I can’t just tell myself to shutup and ride without doing more damage. Yet another is the realization that I can’t do this on my own. I need God’s help and provision and ear.

In the last couple of days, I’ve noticed that I’ve almost without conscious thought turned myself toward God. If I’m grumpy, I grouch at Him and complain about how unfair it is. If I hurt, I cry out and tell Him that I can’t do this. This morning, I noticed another old lesson popped up. I was lying in bed, grouchy about being awake, and instead of staying there, I started thanking God for stuff. The truth is that I have not only reasons for complaint, but I also have reasons for gratitude. Work may be getting on my nerves sometimes, but I do have a job, one with decent pay and benefits and an employer that I usually appreciate and think appreciates me. My back might hurt, but most everything else is working great, and my back is better. I have a great mom. I like my siblings most of the time. I have some really good, sweet friends. Some time in the near future, there will be silly lambs bouncing all over the place and making me laugh with their antics. I live in an abundantly beautiful place. There are lots of good things in my life for which I am genuinely grateful.

One thing I would like to point out my attitude of gratitude is not a case of, “Cheer up! It could always be worse.” I’m not happy about having a job because I could be one of the poor folk who hasn’t been able to find one, or because I’m not stuck doing something I truly hate. I’m not happy about my back pain because at least that’s the only body part currently misbehaving. I think cheering up because it could be worse is the same thing as telling myself to shutup and ride. It’s not gratitude. It’s another method to deny the legitimacy of my very real pain and genuine struggle. It takes what I feel and tells me that I shouldn’t be feeling it. I’ve done that to myself before, and I found that while denying what I feel can be good in the short term, making it a long term habit means I have a lot of unresolved issues that eventually refuse to be hidden or denied.

Tell you one more thing for which I’m grateful. It would be roots. It would be the experience I’ve already acquired and the habits I’ve already learned that make turning toward God something that I don’t always have to struggle to remember. I’ve got that established, rooted into my life. That doesn’t mean I always remember right away to turn to God to pray and wait and rest and praise and all that, but it’s certainly quicker and easier and more likely to happen in a timely manner. For that, I’m grateful.

Rest From All Your Enemies

Now that you’re older, have you decided yet what you want to be? 🙂

It’s early enough this Saturday morn that the chilly pastels of a winter sunrise are blushing the skies over the fir-garbed hills and ranges. It looks lovely, a morning all clean and new. I look out and I wonder how the ewes are holding up. They should be lambing any day now, but they keep getting bigger and bigger with nary a babe in sight.

I am tired. ‘Tis an early-ish morning after an early morning bedtime. Grad school for Carey has opened with a bang, and she was up until about 1am madly trying to finish today’s assignment. I was up with her being supportive – probably silly of me, but that’s what I did – and I got up this morning to make sure she had breakfast and coffee and all her loose ends before she blew out the door for her class. We’re hoping after this week things won’t be quite so hectic. The school had to adjust the schedule thanks to some conflicts, and it made for some horrible assignment due dates. That, though, would be why I am up, sipping a cup of coffee, watching the sunrise, wondering about the sheep, and writing a blog post. Bebo Norman’s Sunday is playing. The melody feels perfect this morning. Everything altogether, including the next bit I want to share with you, makes me sigh and smile. It’s a good morning.

Last weekend about this time, I wasn’t feeling so happy. In fact, I was feeling rotten and on my way to rotten-er. After a week with my back acting all kinds of friendly, I’d woken up to it complaining. I thought, “Well, maybe it’s just sore from therapy yesterday,” and in I went to work. I made it two hours and had to go home because of the pain. It was hard. Not only was I in considerable physical pain, I was disappointed and discouraged. I felt like crawling into a hole and pulling it in after myself. That mood bled off into the rest of my attitude about life, love, and other mysteries, making me quite the grumpy butt. I did try to keep my bad attitude sat upon (that’s what you do with a butt, right? Sit on it? 😉 ), but God certainly got to hear me grumble and groan and feel sorry for myself. Eventually, I thought maybe I should try to stop fussing and maybe listen, and I thought maybe I’d go take a look at Psalms. Maybe David or one of the other writers would have a gem that God would use to lift me up a bit. Psalms has a lot of refuge for the weary within it.

I never made it to Psalms. On the way there, II Samuel, for some reason, caught my eye, and I started reading about Joab murdering Abner. That’s encouraging, right? Not exactly, but I kept along with the story. David mourns Abner, Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth gets crippled, and another fellow, a son of Saul, is also killed. Wow, sunshine and posies, hey? I feel better. 😛 Hearing about other’s misfortunes doesn’t usually make me feel better about my own, but I kept reading. David is anointed king, he beats up the Philistines, and David brings the ark of the Lord to his city, with a death, rejoicing, and grief from his wife. Apparently, her criticism was unwise, for the text records that she died a barren woman, never having had children. I’m sure there all sorts of good lessons to be learned from that, but that wasn’t what I needed.

What I needed I got from the very next verse. I saw a beautiful phrase. “The king lived in his house and the Lord [gave] him rest from all his surrounding enemies.” Doesn’t that remind you of Psalm 23? Let me give a quick paraphrase of it.”The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! He leads me and restores my soul. Even in the presence of my enemies, I am anointed and will fear no evil. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life!” II Samuel 7:8b – 11a goes on to say this:

‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince[b] over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.

I was fed. Grounded. Connected. The psalms of David, the shepherd king, are beautiful. I’ve found great encouragement for my own faith within them, but for myself, I sometimes grasp them for their isolated beauty and truth and comfort. I want them to stand there alone while I bask in leading and restoration and anointing and goodness and mercy. Sometimes, that’s probably fine, to stand there for a moment and inhale their sweet perfume and let that bit of truth salve my soul. Sometimes, that’s just what I need to hear. But sometimes, I don’t need the summary. I don’t need the isolation. I need the journey. I need to see the man walking. I need to see his enemies, his mourning, his anointing, his celebrating. I need to see that his wife argued with him and how he answered her. I need to see that he does have a messy life. I need to see David being encouraged and God speaking to him, even through others. The passage I pasted in was delivered to David by Nathan the prophet. In some ways, that, more than anything else, encourages me. How often does it happen that someone comes along and reminds me of Who God is and what He’s done for me and that He’s not finished yet? It’s not usually a “thus says the Lord” sort of event, but encouragement from others around me is common enough to be normal. I am not alone. We are not alone. We walk together, and God is with us, in our stories and in our psalms, giving us rest from all our enemies.

May your day  be blessed!