As the ewe looked at her newborn lamb and lovingly licked him clean of the birthing fluids, she wistfully wished that he would always stay young and dependent on her and the Shepherd. As the lamb squirmed to nurse and later stand on four wobbly legs, his mother knew the growing had only begun. Her lamb would soon be running and frolicking with his older brothers and sisters and all the other lambs in the flock.
She was a proud mama, and she hoped with all her heart that her little lamb would have a good life, and stay as gentle and loving as he was at that very moment. She knew the Good Shepherd would always take care of them and showed her lamb how the love of the Shepherd was the greatest gift they had. The lamb soon learned for himself that the Shepherd was always watching and guarding them and although He loved His sheep, He would discipline them if they disobeyed or went astray...but this discipline was always done with compassion and mercy.
And so the lamb grew...
One spring day, when the lamb had grown into a young ram, the flock was in the pasture eating clover while the new lambs with their lanky legs were chasing butterflies. The young ram was strong and proud because it was widely known that he was the fastest ram and had the most luxurious fleece in the entire flock. He had eaten his fill of grass and soon grew bored with the seemingly endless grazing of his family and friends.
The young ram decided to walk along the outer edge of the clearing. He peered beyond the edge into the forest and contemplated venturing into the thick growth of trees while the other sheep were preoccupied. Some of the mature rams had warned the younger sheep about wandering from the herd and always encouraged them to stay within a certain border. The Shepherd had also gently guided wayward sheep back from the denser forest areas and cautioned them about the dangers of leaving the flock.
The young ram thought he was surely an exception to the rules.
“I run the swiftest, so if anything happens I can surely run back to safety at a moments notice. Besides, there must be treasures out here just waiting to be discovered. I am strong and brave, but if I can find a greener pasture on the other side of the forest, I just know the other sheep will know I am the mightiest ram of all.”
Glancing back at the Shepherd, the young ram slowly stepped out of the glen and into the forest.
What wonders he saw!
What were those smells?
So much to see and do and think about...without his mother looking over his shoulder or his brothers pestering him to do something or even the Shepherd...just watching...with His kind eyes...it was liberating to be on his own!
To be continued...