Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

This week's sermon was based on the text in John where the Jews ask Jesus to just 'fess up and say he's the Messiah (probably to catch him in a "confession" of his "crimes") and Jesus answers him in a roundabout way, talking about how they are not "His sheep" and that His sheep not only know Him, but He knows His sheep.

Two things stuck out in my mind as Wallace delivered the sermon. One is “How long will you keep us in suspense?” How many times do we ask God that in our own trials and tribulations? I thought about how God tends to answer us in His own time frame, not ours. I know I have caught myself doing that...say I have some pressing issue that I’m trying to find clarity about through my prayer life and have literally just pounded on God about it...”God, why don’t you just TELL ME about xyz because I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing about this...” “God, I know this is going to have a bad outcome, so why don’t you just let it happen so I can get it over with...” “God, I’ve been asking you to help me figure out abc for x number of weeks now and You ain’t told me squat...just tell me SOMETHING...” The suspense really kills you at those moments. You want resolution. God ain’t really delivering it (by YOUR standards)...then again, in the long run, in retrospect, you find out maybe he is.

The other thing is one that may not be picked up on so easily, because, really, it may well be as we move to a more non-agrarian society, this one is going to simply get a little lost. It’s about the sheep hearing the shepherd’s voice. It’s something I am not sure a person would really grasp unless you owned livestock.

Since I own livestock myself, I can understand this in a different way. Not only do they know my voice, they know my pickup truck! They hear or see my truck coming down the road after work and they head to the feed lot way before I get in the driveway. If I’m a little late, they are waiting on me already at the feedlot hearing about my tardiness in no uncertain terms! They not only know the sound of my voice, and what my truck looks like, they know WHAT TIME IT IS TO EAT! Now, never mind in the summer they have a whole pasture full of grass, they know what time they get grain and they are not going to miss out. They are always mad at me when the time changes b/c I am not feeding them “on time.”

I love to stand there and watch them eat. I enjoy their contentment as they eat. I'm sure non-livestock owners may wonder why in the world someone would want to "bond" with a cow or a sheep, but let me assure you, that even the "dumbest" of the pasture animals have a bond with the person who feeds them, as well as a level of trust that can cut through instinctual behavior at times.

Sure, there are times I am going to be late feeding, but I try not to be late as best I can, b/c they are expecting to be fed. It becomes a mutual bonding thing. We are all “one” at dinner time. I like the fact they come running at supper time b/c it means I mean something very important to them. I am the one they can trust to give them their “good” meal—their grain. Sure, they can get by on grass but they still love their grain.

Now, sometimes they “game” me. On Sundays, when I get back early, they run up to be fed and holler and carry on and I yell, “It’s not time to eat! You’re not getting fed till later! You know it’s not suppertime! Go on back out in the pasture!”

That is sort of what Jesus is trying to tell His questioners in a converse sort of way. He’s saying, “You can’t understand b/c I’m not the guy who feeds you.” Notice he doesn’t just say his sheep know him, he says also that HE KNOWS HIS SHEEP. Anyone who feeds livestock knows “their” livestock. My neighbor Garry brings some of his sheep over to my place every summer. Once in a while, he’ll bring another one after he’s brought the first bunch. After they have been at my place for a while, and he brings another one, I come home and look at them and without counting them, can say, “Wait a minute...where did that ewe come from? She wasn’t there yesterday.” I didn’t count them, I didn’t name them or anything, but I know that’s one that wasn’t there before. Jesus is saying, “Look guys, I know my sheep when I see ‘em and y’all ain’t my sheep.”

Now, put the two things I noticed together. When I am asking God, “Why are you keeping me waiting on xyz,” and not getting a clear’s simply because IT’S NOT TIME FOR ME TO EAT. It’s God’s way of saying, “’re one of my sheep. You KNOW I’m going to feed you your grain. But it is NOT supper time yet. Go back out in the pasture and eat some grass. When it’s supper time, you’ll hear me coming. You’ll get some grain and everything will be good.” At times, I believe, God is not ready to feed us because we need to ruminate on what we are getting in the pasture in order to understand the goodness of the grain.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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