Valuable lessons from 4-H Lambs

Part 1: Know My Voice

Those of us who live in a temperate climate are anxiously awaiting spring and all the new life it brings. March came in like a lamb for us this year. But typical to Ohio weather, those nice warm temperatures didn’t yet stay. Spring, new life, and the thought of lambs takes me back to a time when I was young visiting my grandparents’ farm. My grandfather raised cattle and sheep. Once, when my grandpa was away at work, a ewe gave birth to twins far out in the field. It was a chilly, dreary, damp Ohio early spring day and those lambs needed to be inside the barn on nice warm dry straw. I remember the challenge my grandma and I faced trying to get the wobbly legged lambs and their new mother into the barn. But the opportunity to handle and care for those sweet baby lambs was just priceless.

I am sure these experiences influenced my decision to choose sheep as my first 4-H projects. As a young girl of 9, I looked at a flock of young lambs to pick the cutest and most friendly lambs as my 4-H projects. Meanwhile, my dad and Uncle Ronnie tried to teach me about long loins, wide shoulders, muscling, skeletal structure and straight legs as the ideal method of choosing 4-H market lambs. I cannot remember how much their education influenced my decision, but I can tell you from the moment Pinkie and Fonzie were loaded in the trailer; they were mine. In addition to the normal animal husbandry responsibilities, I halter broke and walked my sheep daily. I learned how to train them for the show pen. Let’s be honest, I also made pets out of them.

After raising and working with lambs for several years, I observed that sheep are easily frightened, but not dumb as many might say. Sheep just have a very strong flight instinct. Because of this flight instinct, they are reactive. When frightened they put very little thought into where they are running. They simply flee. This sometimes leads to reckless flight from one danger into another. They also have the strong instincts of herd animals. Especially within a group, they will follow the crowd. If one lamb starts running in fear the rest will follow maybe not knowing what they are running from or where they are running. While raising my sheep, I found sheep have a strong desire to feel safe and be protected. You can see their nervousness when this basic need for safety and protection are not met. As a result, they form a strong bond to whatever, or whomever they get to know as their protector. As much as I was attached to my lambs, they were attached to me. They even knew my voice.

Women were also designed with a strong desire for safety and bonding relationships. We can have the herd mentality- easily following the crowd hoping to be accepted. We can even have that reactive instinct that causes us to run toward things that are not good for us. I can certainly think of times in my life where I have done both. I have listened to a voice that says if you look thin and wear the right clothing you will be acceptable. I have listened to a voice that said success and recognition give you value. I have listened to a voice that said you must have certain things to also have happiness. I have tried to change me to look like others around me. I have tried to change me to act like those around me. But I have found none of these things lead to hope, true lasting relationships, or happiness. They mostly leave us ladies still longing for acceptance and security.

When studying the Gospel of John Chapter 10 you can find some real truths that will keep you from being like a crowd following flighty lamb. You can know what voice to listen to in this noisy society. You can find real safety and a way to a relationship that is everlasting. A relationship that nothing can shake or take from you.

First: Jesus tells us He is a Shepard. His sheep will hear His voice and know that He is the protector and care giver. Maybe you have listened to a voice of rejection. Many women hear the voice of inadequacy. Criticisms and cut downs can be on replay in our own inner thoughts. In addition, there are so many voices attempting to guide you to a path of health, wealth, and wisdom. There are voices offering happiness, and acceptance. Many voices that say follow your heart. Jesus’s voice is of love, security, and guidance to abundant joy. These other voices tend to cause confusion and discontent.

Second: His sheep will not be afraid, follow others, or run into danger because He has established a strong unbreakable bond. In contrast, everywhere we look media is broadcasting countless reasons to live in fear. Social media and Pop culture offer happiness in material possessions and popularity. Ladies follow the trends and try to keep up. Ladies work hard to try to be good enough. We often spend a lot of time and energy focusing on looks and achievements, likes and views (on social media). Ladies feel pressured to follow the popular crowd. Take a closer look at your life if this has been your path. All of these lead toward fear of rejection, discontentment and shallow relationships. Jesus offers a strong unconditional loving relationship. He asks you to come exactly as you are and become one of His sheep.

Third, if you want to be saved (safe)… recognize Him as The Good Shepard who is willing to lay down His life for His sheep. But know, our Shepard lives. He gave His life and rose from the grave. We live in a world where everyone is thinking of self. We live in a self- driven, selfish society. People are willing to step on, belittle, and push aside those that get in the way of their dreams, opinions, and successes. What a contrast to have a God who is willing to lay His life down. He was willing to die so that you can have a secure eternal life. He says I am not like someone who is hired. I am not just working to get ahead, to receive recognition and earn a big paycheck. I will NOT leave when the going gets tough or I see greener grass and better opportunity elsewhere. He is the true selfless giving Shepard who says I never forsake my sheep; I am ever present.

Fourth: When you accept Jesus as your Shepard, you receive eternal security. Jesus assures us nothing can break our bond with Him. John 10:27-29 explains this truth. There is nothing under our sun that lasts. The world we live in is fast paced and changes rapidly. However, accepting Jesus as your Saviour promises eternal life. Eternal means forever. This relationship between Him and you will last forever.

The voices of this world will leave us feeling like nervous sheep with a longing to be safe and secure. The voices of this world pressure us to follow the crowd in thought and deed. The voices of this world lack truth and are constantly changing…..Run, flee from the dangers of those voices! Instead, follow the voice of The Good Shepard. The one who gives the promise of life. As we enjoy the new life of spring, Christians, remember to follow the voice of your Good Shepard. Give thanks for the eternal and abundant life you have. Give thanks for eternal security and the joy you have through Him. If you don’t know Jesus, The Good Shepard, and If you don’t know His voice, seek Him and know The Truth. The Bible says you can have eternal life, through Him. You can accept Him as your Saviour and join His flock forever.

Psalm 23:1-3

 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:

This is part 1(Know My Voice) of a series on: Valuable Lessons from 4-H Lambs.

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