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isolation and destruction

Here's a lesson from my good friend Joe Jones...

"Several years ago I went on an elk hunting trip in Colorado and the Lord had a lesson for me I had not anticipated. At about 10,000 feet on open pasture above the treeline I met a Basque shepherd who was watching over 3500 sheep with just himself and three Australian shepherd dogs. I was really curious about why the sheep would be up in such an isolated area on BLM land and not near any ranch.

"As he was really lonely , he invited my brother in Christ, Ward, and me to join him in his shepherd tent for a cup of coffee. He actually wanted us to stay with him for a few days while we were hunting but we had backpacked in with our tent and wanted to 'rough it' for a few days.

"Sometime later while we were standing on the edge of the flock and talking with the shepherd, we heard a pack of coyotes with a lone sheep that sounded very close but too far away for the shepherd to be able to help. In the midst of all the barking, we could hear the plaintive sound of the sheep in distress.

"That led to a discussion with the shepherd of how many sheep he lost in the two months he spent by himself on the mountain. He said that he only lost a handful -- those that wandered off from the flock where he could not protect them. He said the dogs also did a great job of keeping the sheep together.

"Going back in my story to the lonely sheep that was surrounded by the coyotes: It seemed to me the sheep was being driven by the coyotes as the barking and sounds from the sheep was moving away from us. It was quite a commotion. I asked the shepherd what was happening. He said the coyotes actually drove the sheep away from the flock and when the sheep was far enough away, the coyotes would kill it. He said that if the sheep would stay in the flock they are protected, but alone and by themselves they are vulnerable and eventually will be destroyed by coyotes or wolves.

"This situation brought back to me the reality of Christ the Shepherd and us as sheep. So much is said in the Scriptures about this. It made me realize that when we as sheep go astray, off by ourselves -- when we stay out of fellowship or feel we don’t need it -- that is when we are vulnerable to Satan (the wolf) and we can be destroyed spiritually.

"Don’t leave the protection of the flock (God’s people). Psalm 23:1 says, 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….' and 1 Peter 2:25...'For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd.'"


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