A Wolf In Shepherd’s Clothing
Listen My Beloved…
”I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me.” (John 10:14)
A sheepfold – it’s a place – and it’s an act of love.
It’s an area crafted by the Shepherd, enclosed and protected, inside which, a flock of sheep can rest peacefully and safely in the dark of night.
It’s also a process undertaken by the Shepherd each night as the sheep file into the pen, this “folding” of the sheep…Good Shepherds do it – faithfully, meticulously, tenderly.
Much like a loving parent, preparing a child for sleep, giving baths, finding pajamas, combing wet hair, kisses on cheeks, blankets pulled up under chins after last prayer of night. “I love you,” I love you, too,” still ringing in the air as lights turn off and children snuggle deep; safe for the night.
A connecting, of sorts, to remind young hearts they belong, they are valuable, they are loved. Sometimes as lambs get older and more independent, they like to make us think they don’t need it – but a good shepherd always knows they, especially they, are the ones who need to know it the most.
The fold, itself, out in the meadow, is enclosed on all sides with only one doorway. Some are crude wood fences, others carved out caves, still others are constructed of stone – all meant to be a refuge for sleep, safety from predators.
Very diligent shepherds have even attached bramble bushes, replete with thorns, on the tops of fences or walls to further deter anyone from trying to jump over. Danger has no way in and if it tries, it will be ripped to shreds; blood will be shed.
As night falls, sheep are led to this fold to prepare for night. The shepherd checks each one as they scamper over the threshold. Firm and loving hands run across wooly bodies checking for wounds and tangles, infirmities and insects.
Thick wool can hide many dangers; it takes a shepherd’s knowing touch to detect harm.
These are his beloved sheep – their welfare is his utmost concern.
There are less diligent shepherds, who leave their sheep in the hands of inexperienced hired hands. These “hirelings” usually roam the countryside going from ranch to ranch, working for the one that will pay the most that day.
Christ made a distinction when He called Himself The Good Shepherd. So we would know the difference between Him – and a careless hired hand.
The Good Shepherd The Hired Hand
Buys His own sheep Has nothing invested in sheep
Loves His sheep Loves his paycheck-not sheep
Concerned with welfare of His sheep Concerned about advancement
Protects His sheep with His life Usually runs from danger
There is nothing wrong with being a hired hand — most of us are one. But no hireling ever has as much invested as the One who planned, prepared, and paid for His sheep. Some hired hands are so intent on their own success, they will use sheep in any way possible for self-gain. They are wolves in shepherd’s clothing.
There is only One worth trusting. After long days of rat races, corporate hassles, car sales, or laundry and babies – we need a strong and true Shepherd. One who “folds” us in, runs healing hands through our thick, wooly defenses built through years of heartache and let-downs.
A hired hand could never be entrusted with broken relationships, job depression, loneliness and hopelessness.
Only One Shepherd, only One.
He formed us, He prepared for us. When we chose wrongly, He forgave us. And even when the days out in pasture leave us broken, or wounded, or tangled and mangled – we are “folded in” to a safe place, guarded under the watchful eye of the Shepherd.
He untangles. He binds. He runs His hand over our hearts to see if anything is amiss so that He can fill it. He cups our faces in His hands, wipes insects out of our eyes, and whispers to us so that we will know His voice. He guards the entrance to our souls and we are never out of His sight.
We are protected in this “fold” – made with scarred hands – out of crude wood pieced together with a couple of nails – with a crown of bramble thorns around it.
We are safe here – safer than we could be anywhere else.
We don’t need to be worried about predators. He has made sure of that.
There will be no bloodshed here…well-at least not ours.
(Tonight, as you close your eyes, I pray the Good Shepherd gives you a picture of Him “folding” you in safely for the night – guarded and protected by His hand and love.)