Most people who know me know we have a small farm brewing at our old farm house. We have a growing flock of Icelandic Sheep. One of our lambs born in the 2015 lambing season, Jacob, recently got his head stuck in the cattle panels making a hoop house I built. I’m going to share the story of Jacob and the time I had to wrestle him free.
I want to relate it to one verse in the Bible, though. Isaiah 53:6. I’ll share the first part of that
verse to start:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
– Isaiah 53:6A
This means a few things. As a new shepherd I understand the illustration. We’re stubborn. We care more about ourselves than others too much. We choose our ways over God’s ways and we even reject the good things and good instruction and common sense he gives us….
The other day Jacob had wedged himself in the hoop house with his right horn. Because of the curve of the horn to free himself he had to move a certain way – but it was a way that would have made him feel more trapped. It was the “wrong way” from his perspective. He was baaing like a mad sheep while pushing forward as hard as he could. He would have not freed himself in a million years doing that. But he kept trying. Stubbornly. He felt like he knew what was best.
To succeed he would have had to move backwards and in an awkward way – almost like he was making himself more trapped. It was probably a position that made him feel like he was going to be in trouble. Probably an uncomfortable position. Definitely awkward.
So I had to help him.I tried to coax him and sort of shoo him the right direction, to no avail. Instead I had to straddle my legs over his body so I could use my thighs to try and steady him and pressure him towards the direction I wanted him to go, while I grabbed his left horn with one hand and sort of held him in a headlock with the other and tried to move him back. He’s a lamb, probably only weights about 100Lbs, but he fought hard! It took multiple tries and considerable strength. He bucked and moved against me the whole time. He wanted to be free his way. He wanted to be free on his terms.
He knew what was best from his perspective and his vantage point. I was adding stress and making him angrier, certainly to his understanding no helping, but hurting.
Except. I eventually freed him. In spite of his complete unwillingness and inability to free himself. I fought him for control and won the wrestling match and he ended up free as a result. He ran off to join the flock and was fine while I sat there catching my breath chuckling about his stubbornness and his blindness….
(Quick aside – funny that it was Jacob who decided to get into a wrestling match with his shepherd…)
All WE like Sheep…
Replace the shepherd above with “God” (not that I am anything comparable to Him, in spite of my name) and replace Jacob with “me” or “you”..
How often does God know what’s best for us. How often does he try to give us what is beset for us – while we – like a dumb and stubborn animal fight and kick at Him – as he frees us in spite of ourselves?
From our salvation – where bitter hearts set against God are turned in spite of ourselves, to our sanctification where Christ works change in those changed hearts. To the way he answers prayer, it’s not always (contrary to the prosperity movement) a “yes! whatever you think you want!!!” or “A New carr!!” sometimes the answers – from our view are bitter and hard to understand. Think of Christ’s prayer in the garden “let this cup pass – but nevertheless not my will, but thine” – we sometimes miss that second part. And we get stubborn.
One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible speaking about grace – God’s grace to sinners like us – is in Isaiah 53:6 here. And it applies well in this situation. Both my wrestling match with Jacob – and the times we wrestle with God ourselves.
Remember – it starts out: “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;”
We’ve all gone our own way. Stubbornness rules our hearts. Self will and self determination win. We think we’re entitled, owed even, to this. We don’t want God in our natural state. We are enemies of Him from Adam to now in our natural state.
God could end this verse with “So, I let them go their own way and turned my back on them.” or “So I gave them what they wanted and set their enemies against them”.
Except he doesn’t
Isaiah 53:6 ends with:
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Who is the Him? Read the rest of Isaiah 53 to see who is described. I’ll give you a cheat – Christ is described. God has been turning the hearts of stubborn, stray sheep happy going the wrong way for generations. And he’s still in that business today.
Frankly – it doesn’t matter how you are stubborn. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You don’t have to come part of the way to him – you can’t. You wouldn’t be one inch closer to Him after a thousand lifetimes of trying. That’s how great the gulf is between his holiness and our sin. But he comes to those who are his. He causes our iniquity to be deposited onto Christ.
I’m Christ’s but it isn’t because I figured out how to get my own head out of my fence. In fact, just like Jacob will probably do again, I am constantly putting my head back into fences… I’m Christ’s because God elected me before the foundations of this world – but not for any cause in me.