I know this title sounds crazy, but there is a certain myth that has been around for decades about a shepherd and his lost sheep. One day a sheep goes out on its own and gets lost. The shepherd goes out and leaves the whole herd behind to find this one lost sheep. When the shepherd finally finds the lost sheep, he breaks one of its legs to keep it from wandering again. With its leg broke the sheep then becomes dependent on the shepherd and a bond forms; therefore, it never wanders again. In the end of the story an analogy is formed and the comparison in the Bible of us being the sheep and God being the Shepherd comes to life through this story. Yet, is this biblical?
Most everyone knows that I live on a farm. On our farm we have acquired several sheep over the last few years. I love them! I love not only their disposition, the cute babies, and how easy they are to handle, but I love the real-life perspective of how God looks at us as sheep. It brings it front and center. There is not a day that goes by, that I do not look at those sheep and see Gods word brought to life. One day recently we had a momma sheep become paralyzed after giving birth to twins. It started out very slowly and progressed over time. I must tell you we tried everything we knew to help her and to no avail she never recovered but grew steadily worse. In the end it was a neurological disorder that was beyond any human control. Yesterday, we laid her to rest and these two babies are left orphaned. As we struggled day after day to move this momma around and helped her with her lameness this story kept coming to mind. The logic that would make sense in the story was not true in real life. Moving this momma around and trying to form a bond and help her was far from the truth. Instead, she became more stressed, less responsive, and looked at us out of fear. We were not a safe place for her to heal, but a daily reminder that she was in dire circumstances. Could you imagine how she would react to us if we personally had broken one of her legs. The more I thought about this story, the more it did not make any sense. Why would a shepherd break a leg of their sheep to get their submission, when there are other ways to do so. Better yet, why would God do this to one of his sheep when there are other more loving ways. Does it truly work, or does it take away our free choice to decide who we want to follow?
More question kept coming since we laid that sweet momma to rest. I picked up my bible to search for truth, and the truth is there in nothing in that Bible that indicates and speaks of any such shepherd’s behavior. Here is what I found.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isa 40:11
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. Eze 34:12
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. John 10:11
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. John 10:14
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1John 4:16
These verses paint a beautiful picture of a shepherd that searches for his sheep, wraps them in loving arms, and gently leads. There is nothing to indicate he would purposely hurt one in order to get them to submit, but showers His abundant love over them and their lives so they cannot deny what he has done for them! This is the Shepherd who leads us and this is the Shepherd that we can put our trust and faith in. So, will God break our legs to keep us from wandering? No, God will shower his love on us so we can truly know who he is and know him for who he truly is! God is love!