It’s movie night here with the flock, and we find them watching “The Magnificent Seven.” The bad guy, Calvera, and his gang ride into a tiny Mexican village, and as he’s being confronted, Calvera says, “If God didn’t want them sheared, He would not have made them sheep.”
The shepherd had let his dog, Caleb, choose the movie, and maybe Caleb just didn’t remember this scene. Or maybe, as a dog, he wasn’t aware of the impact the cinema can have on a particular audience.
Naturally, when the movie ends, the sheep get to talking. Pretty quickly, they convince themselves of the idea that, somehow or another, being sheared is a bad thing. Like the poor villagers in the movie, the sheep don’t have much, but what they do have is theirs, and nobody has a right to take it from them.
As shearing time rolls around and preparations are being made for the yearly ritual, the sheep make a break for it. They split up into groups, certain this divide-and-conquer plan will keep the shepherd from finding them. And their plan works. After they hit the road, none of the sheep see hide nor hair of the shepherd or his dog for months.
The group heading north soon encounters mountains and fresh, cool mountain air — the perfect climate for their thick wool. But as they continue to travel higher into the mountains, they find out that, thick as their wool is, it still isn’t enough to protect them from the fierce gales and blizzards they are encountering. They realize that, in the past, they had been able to bunch up with all the other sheep to keep warm. Finally, they have to admit to themselves they just don’t have enough warm bodies.
It doesn’t take long for the group heading south to realize how warm sheep’s wool is. Normally during the summer months, they were relieved of their heavy, woolen coats. But this summer, their fabulous fleeces cling to them like a dozen cowl-necked sweaters. They soon realize maybe a good shearing isn’t such a bad idea, and — yes, you guessed it — they are better off with their shepherd.
The group heading west does reasonably well for themselves. There are no major problems, and they soon come to a huge expanse of open territory. There is grass and water, and the climate is fine. They are free to do whatever they want, but so what? It is all just empty space and empty time. After a few months, one of the sheep asks a couple of the others, “Why is it we came here again?”
It takes a good while for them to recall, “Oh yeah — so we could save our wool.”
But the group heading east has the most profound revelation of all. They encounter a small, poor village alarmingly like the one in “The Magnificent Seven.” People are talking about how hard it has become to make a decent living. Their clothing looks shabby and threadbare. The shopkeepers are telling the villagers it doesn’t really matter that there is no money because there is nothing to buy.
The Price of Victory
Then, in the village square, the sheep see the shepherd and Caleb. There are a number of upset-looking villagers around them. The shepherd is apologizing to the people, saying he has no wool to sell. He says he was thinking he might even have to sell Caleb. He is a sheepdog, after all, and if there are no sheep, well …
The sheep emerge from their place of hiding to rejoin the shepherd. The idea he might have to give up good ol’ Caleb is just too much. They realize how little they had really been giving up when they parted with their wool and how much it matters to the shepherd, to Caleb and to people they have never even met or thought of.
In the fullness of time, all of the sheep return to the fold. They realize they received more than they gave from their flock. Sure, they are asked to contribute their wool, but they also realize wool might have been the LEAST of what they really contributed.
As they follow their shepherd, they give and receive purpose, direction and good company. And, let’s face it, sometimes it’s just good to know where you can find a bunch of warm bodies.
Nobody likes to be fleeced. We all know what a flim-flam looks like and what it feels like to have our trust abused. How many times have we heard, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”?
The shepherd doesn’t promise us a prime slot in the organization. We may not be at the top of the pyramid or never even get a crummy little trophy for most improved or honorable mention.
Our shepherd promises only one thing, and it is enough: to be part of the Magnificent Flock. You will eat your food with glad and generous hearts. You will have the goodwill of all the sheep. You will have life and have it abundantly.