To the untrained eye, this looks like a couple of lazy dogs, a mammoth donkey, and a duck.
To me? It's a picture of freedom, and safety, and danger, and choices.
The way we farm, it's not normal.
When we moved here, our neighbors said "You can't keep cats, or chickens...we've tried. They'll never survive."
Why? Because the danger is too great. The threats are real...woods full of coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, owls and...snakes. Wildlife that belongs here, and doesn't believe in a vegetarian lifestyle.
The way we saw it, we had two options.
Then, there was the second option.
Instead of Fort Knox Farm. We would rely on two white dogs, and a donkey.
With them shepherding our flocks, we...gasp...don't lock anything up. (Unless it's sick, or wounded, or weak.)
Not day, or night.
Not the chickens.
Or the guineas.
Or the duck.
Or the kittens.
But, they could get eaten!!!! You say.
Yes, because there is danger in freedom. There is always the one that chooses to leave the safety of home, in spite of the danger. The guinea that crosses the road (to get to the pond on the other side) and ends up smashed by the truck that didn't bother to slow down for a dumb bird that should have known better than to venture out when it should have stayed home where it had everything it needed, and safety, with the shepherds.
There is the cat that hunts beyond it's territory, and becomes the hunted.
Because sometimes, they cross the road.
They go on that hunt.
And they realize that it's not all it was cracked up to be.
So they COME BACK HOME. Safe and sound.
Sometimes they're gone a few hours, sometimes weeks, or months...and when they come back, we rejoice, because they're home.
But sometimes...they don't make it home.
Maybe you think I'm discussing our politicians and the current state of the world. Lockdowns and quarantine and politics.
You'd be wrong.
I'm talking about a freedom that can't be taken away, revoked, voted in, or voted out.
It's the freedom we have under the care of the Good Shepherd.
There's a reason Jesus wasn't compared to a prison guard, or a politician.
The Shepherd watches over his flocks, because they are free.
They are out on the open range. There are no fences. No pens. No locked gates.
The sheep can choose to stay within the safety of the flock, under His watchful eye and loving care...
Or, they can leave. Go their own way. Look for greener grass and better pastures. And, they might end up lost in a world full of wolves.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ (Luke 15:4-6)
Thankfully, our Shepherd isn't just a hired man. A politician. A dictator. A mayor. Or a President.
He's the King.
And he gave everything for his flock.
“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them. There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd."