While at University, I lived on a sheep and horse farm; working with the sheep was always interesting. When moving them from area to area, you first set up a wide opening where you want them to go, then you block all other avenues of escape and finally you open the gate to where they are and gently push from behind. Now, this seems pretty simple, right? But, with sheep, nothing is ever simple!
This particular sunny late spring day, I was one of the “blockers” of avenues of escape. My body was wide enough to cover the small gap between gate and fence and so should have been enough – and was – until a ewe jumped and hit my chest full force, all 100 pounds of her, and would have knocked me over had I not been holding on to the gate. A novice shepherdess, I asked, “what did I do wrong” as I tried to catch my breath and access the damage to my chest. “Wool-blind” came the answer, “she didn’t see you until she was up on you and it scared her so she jumped to butt you out of the way.” And this made sense as I looked at her. Her face wool had grown so long (it was shearing season) that it covered part of her eyes, obstructing her view.
Sometimes life is like that. Bitterness grows until it obstructs our view of the obstacles God has put in place to keep us moving towards His goal, His safe pasture or a holding pen (it was shearing season). We do stupid things because we cannot see and literally jump in the face of those things meant to protect, not constrain, us.
And this reminds me of worms. I understand that this may be a big jump for some of you – but bear with me, I promise I’ll tie them together.
Long ago, as an avid fisherwoman, I learned an important lesson about worms; fish like them. Interestingly enough, they don’t really care if the worm is alive or shredded or if it’s fake – it’s just got to do two things. First, it must look like it is fat, juicy and alive and second, it has to cover the hook. Sin is a lot like that. It isn’t life; in fact we know that it always results in death, but it looks deceptively juicy and tasty and wonderful. So, I learned to bait the hook to make the worm, or pieces thereof, appear to be alive, wiggling in the water and I learned to cover well the barbs on the hook. I miss those days in the sparking mountain streams, but I digress…
And so we find halfmom in the early to mid 1990s, heart shredded by the circumstances of life, the vision of a L’Abri-like home lost, longing for comfort and solace, wool-blinded by loss and bitterness. And, we find the master angler satan, dangling a shredded worm, brightly glinting, promising things that the heart so longed for. Yep, as the saying goes, hook, line and sinker! But sin produces death and as Prov 20:17, says, the sweet turned to gravel as it was swallowed.
Wool-blind sheep must be penned. They must be constrained for their own good, as they need to be treated for foot rot, wormed and sheared, down close to the skin to be prepared for summer, such is the late spring of the shepherd in the South I know and love. And so halfmom, in deep need of such a shearing, was provided by God, who is faithful and true, an obstacle to block her path – a Mack truck – literally, oh, and, it’s flatbed trailer.