Yesterday I did a little photo session with our daughter and my little ewe named Liza. I had just finished a "Liza Sweater" and thought it would be fun to post something with a picture of the two of us and my new sweater. Our daughter takes great photos and I just loved them all, even the ones with ME in them, which is unusual.
After she had edited them and sent them to me on my iPad, I was enjoying looking through them when this one just stood out to me. I had buried my nose in Liza's sweet, clean fleece and was enjoying the smell of my little one. It made me stop and wonder, exactly why is it that you always here Shepherds referred to as "stinky". You know, even in the Bible people seem to always point out that the Shepherds were known as "stinking shepherds" that no one wanted to be around. They were often looked down upon as lowly. It was an occupation that brought them little fame or recognition.
It is curious to me though, that I don't view my sheep that way. Oh, of course, there is the "stinky" side of farming, but that is the same with all animal husbandry. As a child there was a pig farm not for from us and when the wind blew just right, well, you get my drift. People in general love horses. They are beautiful animals, very majestic, and winsome, but have you ever mucked out a horse stall? Fried chicken is an American all time favorite, but I do dare say that a poultry farm can be, by far, the foulest of them all. After all, when I come to think of it, even our own children can be a little stinky at times. We have an absolutely adorable grandson, but when he messes his diaper, I am all to ready to play the Grandma card and hand him back to his mommy.
Yet it seems that ever so frequently I hear people expound on the "stinky Shepherds" in the Bible. Since I have had the pleasure of owning my own little flock it has changed my Biblical perspective in so many ways. It has actually enhanced my perspective.
The more I come to ponder on this idea, the more I come to realize it was never the Great Shepherd who said this about shepherding. This is a view held by non-shepherds. A non-shepherd just can't wrap their mind around someone wanting to spend time with pesky, stinky, annoying, little animals that require so much attention and care. I've grown accustomed, even today, of people being surprised and a bit perplexed as why on earth I would want sheep. After all, if you insist on knitting, you can buy yarn at almost any department store, but the longer I have my sheep the more I love them.
Just as a non-shepherd does not understand the role of a shepherd, the world does not understand the relationship between the Great Shepherd and His sheep. They have always looked at the stinking shepherd as something to be kept at a distance, at best. They look on the thing as foolish. They mock the idea of Jesus as our Great Shepherd and can not comprehend anyone comparing themselves to a sheep. But when you look to scripture about what it is the Great Shepherd says about His sheep, His flock, and His role as a Shepherd, it is a totally different perspective. It is a perspective I am so grateful to have come to understand a little bit better through the experience of having my very own little flock.