Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sheep in Scotland

The sun was slow to light up the morning sky due to the heavy rain clouds. Wisps of mist clung to the mountain tops as we spied the sheep as dots of white amid the rocky slope. The windshield wipers, like a metro dome, set the beat as the rain engulfed our car on the dirt road.
"This may not be a good idea coming this way. I don't see any other cars travelling here and the road looks like it could be dangerous with all this rain." The potholes in the road were deeper now causing the car to bounce up and down.
"We'll be just fine." Phil assured me, loving the hint of danger in our off the main road adventure.
The highlands of Scotland were clothed in their autumn apparel as we slowly meandered up in altitude. Along the steep mountain side more and more sheep were wandering aimlessly; fat, dumb, and happy, moving to the next piece of green to eat. Rapid streams had formed due to the heavy rainfall and we observed that the sheep were clueless to its danger. Phil pulled the car off the road and parked next to the stream, getting out to read a marker. I stayed inside to keep warm and dry. The sheep were everywhere now and I looked at their thick woolly bodies and thought about the luscious yarn that would be spun from their beautiful fluffy fleece. My thoughts were interrupted as I caught a movement in my peripheral vision. On the very top of the steep mountain a car appeared and out stepped a man with his two dogs. Without any noise, only the motion of his hand, the dogs descended upon the wayward sheep and began to nip at their heels, herding then into a flock. The dogs looked happy doing what they were breed to do, but the sheep were not happy. They moved away from their mindless bliss of grazing with reluctance, but they moved.
Phil had seen the dogs and returned to the car to make sure I saw them. He turned up the heat and together we sat in the warmth of the car, silently watching. The silence was broken by the sound of the key turning on the ignition as the car engine roared to life. Our journey continued; both of us lost in thought. Around each curve we saw more sheep and more beauty as the sun broke through the clouds and a huge rainbow appeared. Along the road we stopped for tea at a small local restaurant overlooking the scenery of a castle built near a loch. Sipping on our tea, we reflected upon the sight of the dogs working the sheep. Our heavenly Father had used this moment to reveal to us, in parable form, how Christ is our Good Shepherd who watches over us. Sometimes, we as sheep, don't see the big picture which includes dangerous situations. He sees. That is when He sends the dogs of circumstance to us to nip at our heels and lead us to safety. Like sheep of the fields, seldom do we appreciate the dogs moving us away from our carefree lifestyle, even though the Master Shepherd knows best.
I read the 23rd Psalm with new eyes after our trip to Scotland.

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