All We Like Sheep (but I don’t like some of them very much…)

Just thinking…

Compassion: is it more than just a charity gig?

Left to my own devices, I am not a compassionate person. My nature is to be self centered, deaf and blind. I don’t hear the call for compassion; I don’t see the needs for compassion, and if I did, I’d come up with excuses that are all about me: I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the energy, I don’t have the patience, I don’t have the………..

I find it nice when my compassion results in a compliment, a pat on the back, a thank you, making the motivation all about me, again. What about the times when this doesn’t happen? How do I find the strength and motivation to be compassionate, knowing that I’ll never have a reward? This purity of compassion is beyond me so I look at Jesus as a role model and source of power. Jesus, who healed 10 lepers but only got one thank you; who died a terrible death to provide salvation, yet many refuse the gift; Jesus the good shepherd with all us rebellious little sheep.

The Psalmist says that “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” and “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Isaiah said that “all we like like sheep have gone astray.”

I used to raise sheep, so I know that they are stupid and they stink. I preferred being around clean, cute cuddly lambs, but truthfully not very many fell into that category.

The Hubs has a sheep collection. It began with one sweet faced lamb, and has grown into a filled curio cabinet. At first he only wanted to collect sheep with peaceful expressions. But we began finding all kinds of other sheep.

There is the black sheep, the lazy sheep, the sheep who never sees where he is going, the sheep whose head is down ready to butt, the goofy sheep, the bobble headed sheep who is scared and quivering. And there are the sheep who can’t walk, and have to be carried. These are far beyond sweet-faced peaceful sheep. So it is with the people around me.

Since I am unable to generate a good heart on my own, l have to look to the Shepherd to see how to truly be compassionate. The gospel of Matthew says that if a shepherd has a sheep and it falls into a pit, then he will pull it out. Luke speaks of a shepherd having 100 sheep, but losing one of them. The shepherd perseveres in searching, not quitting until it is found. In John, Jesus said “I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Wow. Doing the hard work, sticking with it, going the distance. That’s what the Shepherd teaches me.

It’s fairly easy for me to find compassion for the little obedient sheep who always does everything right and on time. It is not so easy to find that compassion for the goofy sheep, or the lazy sheep, or the sheep that always wants to butt heads. What would the Shepherd do? Sometimes he has to use his rod and staff. Ouch! Other times he just holds them. Sometimes a sheep gets himself so dirty and tangled up that he has to be sheared, and start all over. Looking to the Shepherd is the only way I can truly learn compassion.

I knew a woman years ago who was a cute little thing, but we all saw that she was strange. As time went on, she became even more odd.

When she had a baby, she seemed inappropriately attached to the baby. She became pregnant five more times, but lost each of those babies when they were almost to term. After each loss, her personality changed for the worse. After the fifth, she had to be committed to an institution for a short period of time. She was put on medication, but only took it sporadically. I felt sorry for her, but I didn’t show real compassion.

Then she became pregnant once more and this baby lived. She was not interested in the new baby. She spent her time talking about the dead children; she named them; she made things for them.

The suicide attempts began. She overdosed, cut herself. She developed diabetes, began gorging on sugar, gaining over 100 pounds and sending her blood sugars out of control.

She never overtly hurt the children, but she almost ended her own life. The children were taken away because of neglect.

Finally she had a stroke, paralyzing her left side. It is apparent that she probably will never come back to reality and needs round the clock supervision.

It’s hard for me to know how to approach her. In fact, it’s hard for me to approach her at all. She began as a strange, goofy sheep. As time went on, she was the black sheep. I can see where she was the scared quivering sheep. Now I see her as the sheep who has to be carried. Truthfully, I don’t want to carry her. Every bit of my human nature says she makes me uncomfortable. Is this when compassion becomes more than just a charity gig? Is this when I get my hands dirty?

It’s tough because I’m not a real bright and powerful sheep myself. I have to pray about how to do this. There are times for tough love: that rod and staff (they comfort me…). And there are the times to sit with her and listen. The strength to give her the kind of compassion that she needs can not come from within me; I don’t have it. It must come from the Shepherd.

Oh Father, even while I know in my heart that I am to be compassionate, my nature rebels against it. It’s hard to love the unlovely, the ones who spew out hate, the ones who shirk responsible living. Give me compassion and take my eyes off of me. Let me see the sheep of Your pasture, ALL of them, as beautiful. Amen.

To God be the glory…..

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Just thinking…..

When the economy and the kids and the job and the dog all get you down, when Murphy come to visit and all the appliances die within 3 days, when nobody understands why you are crying and then laughing and then crying again, when you look into the mirror and decide grout would work better than makeup……… know this: God loves you.

When you feel like a generation sandwich pulled between aging parents and busy kids, when you wonder who the guy is that you married, when you see the pain in your children’s eyes and you can’t fix the hurt, when you watch a loved one fade away………… know this: God loves you.

When you read the Bible during those late hours and begin to nod, when you wait up for that child to come home, when the bills began to stack, when your prayer seems to bounce………………. know this: God loves you.

When the leaky faucet, again, drives you crazy, when your boss, again, gives you last minute assignments, when someone, again, tracks mud through the kitchen, when it rains, again, and there’s no sunlight in your soul………… know this: God loves you.

Father, You are bigger than my circumstances. You know my future and You have given me a hope that transcends the temporal. Thank You for Your grace in the everyday.

To God be the glory…….

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  

The Fashion Show…. sort of….

Just thinking…..

Today our church had a women’s tea and fashion show. What fun! Let me tell you all about it.

The theme was “Fashion”. Our name tags had either a shoe or purse on it, and the tables were covered with pastel cloths and a mesh purse, filled with colorful tissue paper and fresh flowers. The buffet table was loaded, and decorated with vases of irises. We had omelets, souffles, muffins, biscuits, coffeecakes, donuts, pastries, salads, cheese and sausage, crackers, my cornbread (which some folks wanted the recipe for), cake,cookies……… My…… so much.

We had our missionary study, which was about the summer mission project to Muslim countries of north Africa, and our missionary prayer time. Had a guest speaker whose theme was fashion, and text was from Matthew about being arrayed like the lilies of the field and what we should put on, such as joy, peace, etc. Had a couple pieces of special music. And then we had two fashion shows.

The first fashion show was a collaborative show, done by each table. They had a pasteboard cutout of a dress at each table that was full size, and a pack of magic markers. As a table we had to come up with a Biblical theme for decorating the dress. Ours was the beauty of God’s creation, and we had flowers all over it, and Bible verses about creation. Other tables had themes like fruit of the spirit, the armour of God, etc. And we had modeling of the “dresses”.

The second fashion show was a spoof, complete with wonderful puns. We had piano music in the background, and each of the women who modeled came out, was introduced, and the MC talked about the outfit just a fashion designer would. They were a hoot! The first dress was a muu-muu. The woman wore a black and white dress, with cows pinned to it, and holstein spots on her shoes and a stuffed cow on the hat, and she carried a milk pail for a purse. It was a Moo-Moo. Now that you understand the spoof and puns, here are some of the others:

1. Blouse with 3 quarter sleeves (3 quarters attached to the sleeves). The MC said that you could wear it for a change.
2. A skirt with box pleats and matching top. There were match boxes on the pleats and matches on the top! She carried a hand bag, which had a hand stitched to it.
3. Then there was the tent dress. Yep…… a small camping tent artfully draped on her. She carried a back pack for a bag.
4. There was the lady with the alligator purse and shoes. Picture a green stuffed alligator on both. She also wore a turtle neck sweater (turtle toy on the neck).
5. One woman modeled a leisurely duster. Imagine all the feather dusters all over the dress.
6. Another lady was in her spring outfit. She had slinkies all over the hat, dress, and bag.
7. The sun dress had cloth suns appliqued on it, with golden pipe cleaner “rays” sticking out.
8. There was the can-can dress, with coke cans sewed on the bottom as a fringe.
9. The tea gown had tea bags all over it, and tea bag earrings. There were sugar cubes glued to the sleeves, and plastic spoons glued to the hemline.
10. The dress with the plunging neckline had a rubber bathroom plunger at the neck.
11. The tank top had toy army tanks on it.
12. The blouse with the boat neck, had toy boats attached.
13. The ball gown had whiffle balls all over and she carried a football spray painted silver for a purse.
14. The tennis outfit had 10S on it, and had tennis balls on the shoes and hat.
15. The seersucker dress was covered with lollipops.
16. The cotton dress was covered with cotton balls.
17. There were stove pipe pants (use your imagination!)
18. One outfit was designed for bare feet. So the model had teddy bears attached to her feet.
19. Along the same line, the outfit with the hush puppies, had toy dogs on the feet.
20. The outfit called “summer’s sizzling look” had flames all over it.
21. The A-line dress had a huge letter A from top to bottom.
22. The princess line dress had Barbie with a crown attached to it.

It was so funny and so clever. When finished, the MC gave the woman in charge of the fashion show a gift basket. She said it was a basket of flowers. And it was…….. just spelled differently. In the basket was a sack of whole wheat flour, a sack of self rising flour, a sack of all purpose flour, etc. Too funny!

Father, let me remember to not take myself too seriously, but to always be serious about you. Amen

To God be the glory……

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment