Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Feeding Sheep

The sheep barn...where I spent many hours as a teen on our family farm. We fed sheep, cleaned pens, carried hay and gave vaccinations. We also trained lambs for the fair and cared for orphans. There are some good memories and as we visited my dad the other day, I was reminded there are still some lessons to learn.

As I listened to a small fraction of his ewes (female sheep) I was encouraged my kids are not the biggest noise makers in the county!! I had blocked out the volume of annoying noise a bunch of hungry sheep can make...this clip doesn't compare to what it sounds like in real life.

Their bleating about drove me crazy, but as I observed I knew there was something for me to learn. I watched the sheep react to my dad walk through the pen...they were hungry and they knew he was their shepherd. He would feed them and care for them like he always has.

At this point I recalled the conversation between Jesus and Peter that we find in John 21...three times Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep and care for His lambs. Jesus isn't talking about a woolly flock out on the hill, but His people. I'm guessing not many of my reader friends actually care for these animals either, but we all need to care for our Shepherd's sheep.

Whether you own a barn or not, you have hungry sheep in your circle. They may not join together and make noise at a certain time each day, but they are longing for and in need of the Living Word you have to offer. Matthew 4:4 says, "Jesus answered, 'It s written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Friend, I encourage you to look around you and see who is in need of some spiritual food. Pray and ask God to show you what sheep He needs you to feed today!

My kids took this encouragement literally and we now have 5 orphan lambs to care for. This was my son's idea so when Grandpa dropped the lambs off I didn't even go to the barn. I wanted him to take responsibility for what he wanted and needed to do.

Later that night it was time to get the milk ready and J.D. and Joy disagreed on how to mix it up. One thought it was so much milk replacer and water while the other thought it was a different ratio. I was frustrated and thought here we go so much for responsibility. I reminded the kids these lambs were little and this was important not just for this feeding, but for the lambs' lives.

So they did what you and I need to do...they called the one who knows. Grandpa gave them the right measurements and they were on their way. I was reminded that in a spiritual sense things are quite similar...all sheep need the same type of feed, but they do so in different amounts and proportions. All of God's lambs need His Word, but only He knows what each one needs specifically. As we share, speak, teach and feed His sheep may we remember to ask Him what they need.

Finally a couple of other thoughts as we thinking about feeding sheep in a spiritual sense...if we're a Mom, our children must be our number one priority. My dad has 2 grandsons working with sheep this year and he's also helped some of his neighbor boys get started. He's more than willing to help them, but one thing I've noticed is he always takes care of his flock first. God may call us to reach out, help and teach others, but we must keep first things first. We must be sure we are drinking from the living Word ourselves and then care for those in our home before we reach out to others.

One last thing for those of you feeling called in to ministry a word of advice...start small. My dad has been raising sheep for over 30 years...he now has close to 200 ewes, which means in a couple of weeks he'll have close to 400 lambs. But as I walked through the barn the other day my mind went back to my childhood days when a neighbor gave us our first orphan lamb. A lot has changed since then and my dad has learned much in that time. I'm guessing he'd say there's no way he could do what he's doing now when he first started. Experience has been a great teacher and as he's learned his flock has grown.

Friend, as you and I diligently feed the sheep God brings to us I believe He'll do the same. He knows what we are capable of and better yet, He knows who we need to feed. The number isn't important, but their nourishment is! May you and I be ones who "do your (our) best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

I hope this is a task we will take seriously and do a world that needs the Word and often distorts it may we be diligent and responsible to handle it rightly! Remember the power it holds and work it can accomplish!

"For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

"The law of the Lord is perfect, 
refreshing the soul.
The statues of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes. 
(Psalm 19:7-8)


  1. Jill, I learned so much from your post today. Thank you so much for giving us another sheep analogy. What a beautiful treasure God has given you to be able to read, understand and teach his word through the eyes of farm life. I gain so much from your insight. Thank you for feeding this sheep today! :)

  2. Powerful lessons in this post, Jill! Thanks!

  3. I love this so much, Jill. I am so taken by the ways in which you see, hear, and respond to God within every framework of your day. Thank you endlessly for illuminating Biblical analogies, stories, and parables in ways that I could never understand otherwise (this city girl has no clue about ewes :) ). I always love your posts. xxo