Friday, July 10, 2015
Follow The Shepherd or The Flock?
Traffic came to a halt on Warren Road near my home, and a few cars ahead I spied the reason. There was a family of geese crossing the road, the two adult geese, walking single file, followed by a number of small, fluffy goslings … followed by more adults … followed by more …. Good grief!
Twenty or thirty cars were now stopped in both directions, as the line of geese just continued. Slowly! I waited with apprehension, fearing that someone who HAD to hurry somewhere would move into the center passing lane and drive through with no heed for the plight of the geese. But three or four minutes passed and a break finally came in the parade, and traffic moved on.
And as I passed the spot of the geese passage, I saw a large flock of the ones who had crossed on one side of the road, and large flock of those remaining on the other side, awaiting further crossings. But it wasn’t until later that night that I considered: Why didn’t all these geese cross as a flock, rather than one by one?
I tried to apply my knowledge of geese and some logic to make sense of their behavior, but in my limited experience there is no logic to geese behavior (you may recall a post somewhere here about the time when a goose prayed with me for an hour!). The only thing which seemed to explain the road-crossing behavior is that the geese must have perceived the danger of the road, but some need finally drove the first goose to brave the crossing, and the others followed, in trepidation, one at a time --- kind of like kids holding hands and following one another on a dark pathway --- you trust that if the kid in front of you passed okay, it must be okay for you to follow.
And my thoughts then turned to a different leader and a different flock. This leader said: “I am the Good Shepherd. My sheep know me, and follow me.” And certainly many of us in the flock try to do just that. However, in this world there are many sheep, and many of them --- perhaps with no evil intent --- would lead us astray. “Yeh, the Shepherd is leading us to an eternity of lush pastures, but right now doesn’t that grass over there look good?” And so we stop and look, and perhaps linger and taste. And the Shepherd moves out of our sight.
I think that’s the way of the world, and our choice. Do we follow the Shepherd or the flock? Does the majority saying or doing something make it right? (I’m told lemmings think so.) How do we know who to follow, if our desires and perhaps even our logic say we should follow someone new who calls?
I think back on the geese crossing the road. The first ones to cross were the two adult geese, followed by their goslings. The parents had a desire for the protection of their little ones, even if protecting them involved a sometimes dangerous path. They led the way, and the little ones followed because they knew their parents would protect them. Out of the perhaps 100 geese on one side of the road, it was the ones who acted out of love who dared to do what must be done, and the goslings and others followed.
Following in trust may have been instinct for the geese, but it isn’t for us. We need to learn more about this Good Shepherd before we can, perhaps someday, come to follow Him out of instinct, going wherever He would lead us --- knowing He does so out of love. There are many others who would like us to follow them, for who knows what reason, but not for love. We need to know and trust and follow the One who will truly lead us to safety, who willingly gave His life for our eternal happiness.
And stop acting like silly geese.
Honk if you love Jesus! (I think I read that somewhere.)