In reflecting on the Book of James (this morning), I was reminded of a precious story, very near and dear to my heart. This is a story about a “bell sheep,” and one that I’ve shared quite often, in my writing; the original author is unknown:
Once there was a rebellious little lamb who continually went astray and did not listen to her Shepherd. She would go on different paths, get lost, get hurt, lead others away from the herd, and do all sorts of foolish things.
One day her Shepherd got tired of her wandering and broke her back legs (shepherds really do this to keep their sheep from wandering). He put her on his shoulders and carried her while she healed. She felt his heartbeat. She felt him breathe. She listened to every word he uttered. She began to want to be with him, and at all times.
When she was completely healed, her Shepherd put a little bell around her neck. This was so he could hear her if she wandered again. The amazing thing is, she never ever wanted to leave his side. Another thing that was amazing, is that her bell rang out within the hearing range of other sheep. They would know who to follow, because she was always close to her Shepherd, and it helped them find their way.
Being A “Bell Sheep”
My choices in life have taken me down many back roads, side roads, off-roads, you name it (roads). I’ve made my own map, in many instances, and like a lost sheep, I’ve had to have help in finding my way home.
In not following His will for my life (His direction), I ran myself into a lot of ditches. Where my internal compass seemed to be temporarily out-of-order, I wandered off and got lost, and in some cases, I was stranded with no gas, and seemingly no way back, getting a few flat tires, along the way.
I allowed “my will” to steer me in the wrong direction, finding out that when we’re not treading lightly (on these “life” tires, our physical bodies), we will open ourselves up to more of this unnecessary wear and tear. And without good, dependable transportation… we’re simply going nowhere.
Each of our lives can be used as this witness to others. We can choose to lead. We can choose to follow. The trajectory of our lives can quickly change, if we choose not to follow Him.
Are we truly being a good “bell sheep” for others, in this world?
Do we serve, even when we feel some are less than deserving? Or do we give, even when we may question the motives of the heart we are giving to?
Do we still love, even when that love may not be reciprocated?
Is our heart demonstrating these daily acts of kindness, towards all of our fellow-men?
Answering His Call
In a world full of ups and downs, and various ins and outs, He’s calling us to be faithful in all that He is calling us to do: faithful in our friendships, faithful to our families, faithful to Him, and faithful to His church.
When we choose to “keep the peace” in remaining silent, not speaking up for others, or in not speaking the truth, we can become complacent in our everyday living. Before we know it, we’ve conformed to this world, and we’re not in a position to be leading anyone, at all.
No matter what my past circumstances may have been, it has always been my heart to make peace in this world. I’ve written several times on the importance of unity, and in being a peacemaker versus a peacekeeper. There is a difference.
James 3:18 states, “Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” – Peacemakers who sow in peace will reap a harvest of righteousness. I believe that in maintaining peace through false pretenses, it will not ever make for “real” peace. To be a true peacemaker means not only loving people where they are; but, it also means, we have to be sincere in our forgiving them, too.
There is a process of reconciliation that must take place for there to be true peace (in our lives), especially when others may stand in the way of this process, due to their own unforgiveness or offenses. The Lord will give us this opportunity to lay that burden down, surrendering it to Him, and in allowing Him to intercede on our behalf.
In the Spirit, as one Body of Christ, we must recognize how important we are to this Body, as a whole. We do not want to leave, not even one soul behind. How we interact with one another will speak volumes to our walk with Christ, and our witness to them.
The years that I’ve spent in the wilderness… My choices were not always in making peace with others. I had to learn to be accountable for how I was treating others, even when I thought my actions were justified.
Our words can either lift people up or sadly, they can tear them down. It is our responsibility to love others and to make this peace with them.
Even in the most adverse situations, when it is a challenge not to react, we must hold out for God’s best in that circumstance, trusting in Him for this direction.
We are each relevant to the One Body of Christ. Let us allow our lives to be a testament to His glory, shining brightly, and yes, for all the world to see.