The Sheepfold and the Shepherd

A few weeks ago, “Aunt Louise”, my prized Saler cow, gave birth to little 52-pound “Giuseppe.” He’s the first bull calf she’s given birth to and boy is he an active little fella. At three weeks old, he’s now into everything. He loves to come up and bull the tires on my ATV, eat hay, and play. He spends his day “high-tailing” it all over the ranch. Most of the time, I see him out there running in circles around his mother. It seems if he’s not nursing or napping, he’s running.

While “Giuseppe” has always been active, he wasn’t always excited to see me show up in his pasture. This post shares the lesson God used him and his mama to teach me. When calves are born, most of the mamas lead them into the feedlot next to the barn. The other cows leave them alone there to bond with one another. The pair, mother and calf, remain separated for a day or so, and then rejoin the herd. As gentle lowing and cries between them continue, they are as comforting to this old rancher as to each other.

I encourage mama cows to move their babies into the feedlot for two reasons. The barn provides warmth and protection from the elements; and steel cattle panels (with four-inch squares) surround the feedlot so nothing of size gets in or out (coyotes, calves, dogs, etc.) The morning after “Aunt Louise” had her baby, I entered the feedlot.

“Giuseppe” was standing under mama, and immediately darted for the far corner of the feedlot, crying out, and trying to escape. Had I not put the panels in place, he would have tried to squeeze through the barbed wire and tore himself open. As he tried to escape, mama walked over and “gentled” her baby with her soft cries. The little calf immediately settled down. Mama then prodded the calf forward and guided it toward me. I remained still, waiting for the pair to approach me.

When she brought her calf to me, I was already in tears as the words of John 10:1-13 emerged from within. In that moment, I understood how mama cow and her calf are both my sheep; I am their shepherd. I rubbed on “Louise” softly and after a few minutes I slowly reached down and patted “Giuseppe.” Mama and calf moved away, and I finished my feeding. The next day, when I peered into the barn where mama kept her calf hidden during sub-freezing temperatures, the little calf ran to me, even though mama was off feeding. I couldn’t help but praise God for giving me care over His majestic animals. I prayed He helps me to be, like Him, a good shepherd to my flock.

As I prayed about this episode later, God revealed to me a wonderful lesson. He showed me how I’m not only to be a shepherd to the animals He’s placed in my care here at the Cross-Dubya. I’m also a shepherd for the people He places in my care. My family, friends, workers and co-workers, and just casual acquaintances who cross my path; I am to shepherd all of them. For some, it might be just a word of wisdom from God or a prayer to help them through a fiery trial. Others, like my ranch hands, I am to disciple them as they seek to grow in Christ. Yet others, my wife and loved ones for example, I am to guide, protect, serve, care for, and nourish them.

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Lambs appear not only as defenseless, baaaaahing, bleeting, furry little creatures. Some have two legs instead of four. Some weigh over a thousand pounds and like to step on your toes. In all cases, God brings lambs and sheep into our lives for His reasons. Our job is to care for them and guide them into Christ’s sheepfold, where they will remain protected for eternity. I love knowing that one day I will give my sheep to The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). I pray God’s guidance over each one, so I might deliver all placed in my care to His sheepfold.

God’s blessings,

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48 thoughts on “The Sheepfold and the Shepherd

    1. Thank you Ms. Carolyn. Am so glad you enjoyed; I hope as much as I did your post ma’am. I love it when God brings common themes to the forefront by those in His service who He chooses to use. Here in Texas, we say “That’s a Jesus thang right there!” Am so honored we were able to share one of those “thangs” this week my friend. 🙂

  1. I love your stories from the ranch. Your patience paid off. Giuseppe’s change of heart made me smile. And such a sweet mama too.
    My rebellious young heart prevented me from seeing and trusting that God always has our best interest in mind. The Good Shepherd was patient with me and still is. Thanks for the reminder that we have a responsibility to patiently shepherd those He has given into our sphere of influence.

    1. You and me both Ms. Dottie. I think God each day for all the patience He has, and still does, show toward me. Like little “Giuseppe” though, I am learning it’s easier to trust my Shepherd more each day. God’s blessings ma’am.

  2. Thanks for this vivid picture of what it means to be a shepherd (shepherdess?). it made me think of the kids in my Sunday School class, and AWANA group. Am I just teaching them facts from the Bible, or is my desire and purpose to lead them to Jesus, the Good Shepherd (like Aunt Louise led little Giuseppe to you, her provider and her kind master).

    1. Ms. Jackie; I’ll never be able to compare with the number of young lives you’ve touched with all your mission trips, children’s events, etc., but I pray you know that your lessons are used by us “older kids” too as we learn from the trails you’ve blazed in God’s service my friend. God’s blessings for all you’ve done and all you’ll do.

  3. What a beautiful reminder of discipleship. God brings people in our lives for a reason. One of my favorite shepherd references is the one where shepherd leaves the 99 to find the one lost.
    There are so many opportunities come to us everyday . May God let me see every one of them.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Cherie. We are all called to disciple, lead, guide, and mentor someone my friend. For years, it was co-workers. These days, it’s mostly livestock, but God brings wonderful young people and other friends into my life I pray I can help shepherd. For you, it was the hundreds of nurses you’ve trained. These days, I thank God for your willingness to help anyone God brings into your world. Such a blessing ma’am.

    1. You’re just the “Bestest” Ms. Starr. Thank you so much for your kind words ma’am. I always say , “You get what you give.” I think God I get such godly encouragement and support from wonderful friends like you ma’am. I pray I get to meet you at BRMCWC this year.

    1. Awww Pastor Stephanie. You always give such encouragement, wisdom, and insight my young friend. Thank you so much for making time to help shepherd us more novice writers ma’am; you’re such a blessing to many of us.

  4. JD, this is beautiful! Thank you for reminding us we are Shepherds and our friends are sheep. I love this analogy. Your description of Giuseppe is lovely, and I especially enjoyed the part where he ran to you when his mamma was away. God bless you, sir. It is a pleasure to read your devotions.

  5. I love the lessons your learn and share from the farm. It brings us closer to Jesus original audience and the meaning of the Word. Keep sharing because most of us a far removed from the agrarian life. Thank you! I’ve jealous that you can love on your cows and calves.

    1. That is so kind Ms. Cathy. If you’re ever in Texas, please come by. Am certain our “babies” would be up for some loving on. Especially if you bring them hay or some corn. LOL Of course, if I’m ever in Boston again, you’ll have to re-teach me how to get around downtown without making a right-hand turn. 🙂

  6. J. D., I love reading about your ranch animals, and even more, the analogies God shows you. Thank you for reminding us of our shepherding responsibilities as we follow the Chief Shepherd in our walk with Him. Beautiful post.

    1. Am so glad you enjoyed Ms. Jeannie. God uses His entire creation to inspire and teach us, but, like you, we have to be attuned to listen for Him in whatever environment He places us in. We can be assured He is there with us ma’am. God’s blessings.

  7. I can picture you and Giuseppe and his Mama. What a blessing to care for animals! You have a gentle spirit with them and they can sense your compassion. Yes, we need to be leading the lambs to The Shepherd. I pray we all feel His love and care. Great message.

    1. Awww… Thanks Ms. Melissa. I pray they (each animal) know they are loved, protected, and cared for here. I pamper them perhaps to excess, but I view each of them as being placed in my care by God Himself. I pray I never fail Him in my task.

  8. Such a sweet story of Giuseppe and how you encourage the mama cows to move their babies to places of protection. I, too, want to lead lost sheep, lambs to the Good Shepherd. And I love seeing the heavenly Father as my Shepherd. I made a prayer out of Psalm 28:9 and it hangs on my wall behind my computer on a sticky note: “Lord, be my Shepherd and carry me forever!”

    1. What a sweet sentiment; and a special prayer Ms. Karen. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us ma’am. We are blessed by your friendship, prayers, and encouragement ma’am. God’s blessings.

  9. J.D., you’ve taken a page from the Good Shepherd’s Book and used a parable to teach us a valuable lesson about His flock. Touching and sweet. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Such kindness. Thank you Ms. Lori. I too love how God can find ways to reinforce our learning and teach us new things in our every day. We don’t have to wait until the pastor shares the Sunday morning lesson when we stay connected do we ma’am? 🙂

    1. And the amazing part Ms. Sylvia is that He even looks after us after we’ve turned our backs on Him and ran away. Such love! And yes, my wife is Italian-American (Mosconi is her maiden name). She names most of our cattle after her family members. 🙂 “Giuseppe” is actually named after her dad.

    1. You are so very welcome Ms. Joanna. Am so glad you enjoyed ma’am. Sometimes I can’t decide if I’m a shepherd or sheepdog, but I think there are times when I must be both. I think more sheepdog though. I’m just God’s caretaker here at the ranch. All us lambs (me, wife, animals) belong to God; my job is to care for and protect them.

  10. Love this J.D. And another lesson could show how you are the sheep and God is your Shepherd. Like the little bull calf, there are times when we run away from GOd , even at risking injury to ourselves. You just can’t outrun God.! He shows up at that barrier (fence) to keep you protected. His Word is that boundary we all need to establish firmly in our hearts!

    1. Absolutely Mr. Ben. I mentioned to another friend below, Ms. Joanna Eccles (another wonderful Christian writer like you) that sometimes I spend time as both shepherd and sheepdog. We’re all God’s sheep around here, but as His sheepdog, my job is to protect them. I think perhaps, I’m like “Aunt Louise.” To my cows I’m the shepherd; to my Shepherd, I’m the sheepdog. Not a hireling who doesn’t care, but a member of His flock. 🙂

    1. You are something special indeed Ms. Cathy. How can such a tiny house hold such a huge heart for God? Am glad you enjoyed ma’am. Seeing your comments here at the end of a very trying, tiring day, is such a blessing. Thank you ma’am.

  11. As always, I love these lessons you share from your ranch. We had beef cattle when I was growing up and calving season was always a joy, although ours didn’t love us as much as yours love you! You’ve been a shepherd for me, my friend, during these dark and scary trials. Thank you for the wisdom of your message and the love and care you share with others.

    1. What a sweet thing to say Ms. Katherine. I wish I had some eloquent response to such beautiful words as yours ma’am, but I hope this will suffice. Whatever I and my family have done on this earth, I pray it is looked upon favorably in the halls of heaven. For, we pray, all we offer in service to others we do so with His imprint upon our actions. Like you and “Farmer Bob”, Ms. Diane and I both pray that something we might say or do brings Him the glory He deserves. God’s blessings sweet friend; and thank you again for your heartwarming comments.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. LuAnn. When little things like that happen (Saturday evening, little “Rocky”, the calf born Friday) comes over to me and places he head on my leg while I was putting out hay. What can you do but drop everything you’re doing and love on this little fella for a few minutes. As he sucks on your finger and you rub his poll, you can almost feel God reaching down and patting our head or placing His hand on your shoulder. Special moments for praise indeed. God’s blessings ma’am. I bet you miss the farm in moments like this don’t you? 🙂

    1. Amen Ms. Jeanne. We each have “circles of influence” (I like this work picture). I wonder if like in the parable of then minas/talents, if we can take from there that the better job of stewarding/shepherding what is within our “circle of influence” determines how much God can increase our circle? What a great thought for me to ponder ma’am. Thank you; and God’s blessings. You paint beautiful pictures and ideals with your words ma’am.

  12. J.D., this is beautiful. I love the imagery you’ve created of each of us shepherding those God has placed in our lives.
    It made me think of a little girl in my classroom. This week she and another child were talking.
    “Are you a Christian?” the second child said.
    “Yes, I am.”
    “What’s a Christian?” the first child asked.
    “That’s someone who follows Christ.” I allowed the conversation to continue naturally between the girls.
    “You mean you can do that?”
    I went home in tears. Oh, how I long to share the gospel with this little one and how I praise God for the shepherding heart of a child.

    1. Ms. Tammy, your words caused a couple of them tears here also ma’am. I hope you’ll consider that with never uttering His name, you are sharing Christ with the children in your classroom. You may be prevented from spreading God’s gospel message in word, but nothing or no one can keep you from living that message out in your life. You wear it so well ma’am. God’s blessings.

  13. I don’t typically think of shepherding other animals that aren’t sheep but you are spot on. Thanks for broadening my perspective. For any position of authority over man and beast, we are indeed a shepherd. I’ll let my dogs know tonight as I push them off my pillow!

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