the good shepherd

A Lost Goat, A Good Shepherd.

One day I was out with my herd of goats at a job site up in the Palomar mountains ( a new part-time endeavor of mine, a job I’m trying out) and one of the larger females jumped the electric fence. I was watching when she did it. She walked up to the edge of the embankment, leapt toward an oak tree, and due to the slope, managed to find herself on the other side of the fence quite suddenly.

It all happened so fast, yet it seemed like time slowed down as I ran up the hillside to unplug the fence so I could go grab my goat and lead her back in. As I approached her, she stood there, a bit dazed, and probably confused. Goats do not ever want to be separated from the rest of their herd on purpose. But here she was, standing at the foot of the hillside and on the wrong side of the fence, not sure what to do.

I spoke to her calmly, and tried at first to see if she’d follow my lead. But she was obstinate. And since I couldn’t manage to grab her by the horns, I had to leave her there while I climbed up the slope of the hillside to prevent the rest of the herd from escaping, which they were on the brink of attempting.

After I got the herd to stand back, I took a portion of the fence and lowered it so my escapee could simply walk back inside. I called her to come up the embankment.

Below, she walked around, she turned in every direction except toward me and the herd. I couldn’t leave my position to go grab her, because the herd behind me would follow me through the opening in the fence I’d made. I didn’t have help, being alone out there. So, she would have to come up on her own.

You have to be extremely patient with goats. If you rush them, or they sense you are impatient, they will turn fearful and obstinate. If you ever lose their trust, they are a type of animal that will never trust you again. You cannot regain a goat’s trust.

So, I let her walk around below us for a bit. I wasn’t going to let her sense my distress. Minutes passed that felt like hours. She would walk a few paces, turn, and stand and stare. I would call. She would walk away, then come back, and stare out at the horizon.

Finally, she came up the slope to our level, and stood on a rock just in front of me. I called to her softly, hoping she’d turn around and see the opening. The rest of the herd stood back, watching ( I was so very grateful they were obedient). She stumbled a bit, but caught her footing. I feared she would jump back down, and we’d have to start all over again.

Meanwhile, the electric fence was shut down, and everyone was exposed. Why wouldn’t she simply turn around and look? She literally looked in every direction but right behind her, and in her frantic state did not realize that all she had to do was turn to me, and see that I had made a way for her to come home, and the rest of her family was right there.

This is what we do as God’s children. Everyone does this, and I’m surely no exception. There have been so many times in my life where I have been lost, and because I was frantic and looking to myself for an answer, instead of to God, I didn’t see that The Good Shepherd was right behind me, gently but firmly calling me, showing me the way. So simple. All I had to do was turn to Him!

Finally, my lady goat did turn toward me. I held my breath. When she looked at me, crouched there, with my arms wide, it was as though something “clicked” for her. I saw it in her beautiful blue eyes. And then she simply walked toward me, stepped over the fence I was holding down for her, and rejoined the herd. I rejoiced. Then I repaired the fence, and plugged it back in.

All in all, she was probably out for half an hour. My arms were exhausted, I was mentally tired, but all that mattered was that she was safe. I had not an ounce of anger or frustration toward her. Why would I? All was well. She was safe.

Now, I am only a human. If I felt this way about a goat, how much more infinite is God’s patience and love for us?! He is never impatient or angry with us when we lose our way, or when we don’t remember to seek Him, or when we spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and even YEARS not turning to Him. All He cares about is that we ultimately do.

And when we finally do, He is right there. Just as I waited, yearning for my goat to turn to me so she could find her way home, so it is with God and His children. He is always patiently waiting, whenever we are lost, calling to us gently. Calling us to turn back to Him, and come home.