It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. And once a ewe rejects one of her lambs, any attempt to return the lamb to her will fail because she never changes her mind.
As a consequence, the little lamb’s spirit is completely broken, and it will hang its head so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. This poor, heartbroken creature is called a “bummer lamb.”
The shepherd must intervene or the bummer lamb, rejected and alone, will die. So, the shepherd himself takes the lamb into his home, hand feeds it, and keeps it warm by the fire. He will wrap it in blankets and hold it to his chest so that the lamb can hear his heartbeat.
Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock where it finds its place, but that lamb, even after it is grown, never forgets how the shepherd cared for it when it was rejected.
From that point forward, when the shepherd calls for the flock to come, can you guess who is the first to respond? The bummer lamb immediately recognizes the voice of the shepherd because it intimately knows that voice. The bummer lamb is not loved more by the shepherd, rather, it is that the lamb has simply learned who loves it.
All of us can claim to know what it is like to be a bummer lamb. Rejected, friendless, disrespected by those who are supposed to care for us, there are many reasons a person might feel this way from time to time. But we have a Shepherd who provides for our every need and holds us close to His heart.
“ ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. … I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.’ ” John 10:11, 14. Jesus says that He is the Good Shepherd, that He loves His sheep, and that they hear and know His voice.
We may be broken, but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd.
“The relation of Christ to His people is compared to a shepherd. He saw, after the fall, His sheep in a pitiable condition, exposed to sure destruction. He left the honors and glory of His Father’s house to become a shepherd, to save the miserable, wandering sheep, who were ready to perish. His winning voice was heard calling them to His fold, a safe and sure retreat from the hand of robbers; also a shelter from the scorching heat, and a protection from the chilling blasts. His care was continually exercised for the good of His sheep. He strengthened the weak, nourished the suffering, and gathered the lambs of the flock in His arms, and carried them in His bosom. His sheep love Him. He goeth before His sheep, and they hear His voice, and follow Him.” The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, 113, 114
Lord, thank You for Your loving kindness and care. Help us to always hear and heed Your voice.
Adapted from Robbie Boyd at gospelfocused.com/embracingbrokenness.org