Conversatin with the Chief Shepherd
Chief Shepherd: What are you eating?
Under-Shepherd: Mmmmm…Rightness. It tastes good!
Chief Shepherd: Why are you eating?
Under-Shepherd: Because I am hungry.
Chief Shepherd: Why did you not come to me? I am the Bread of Life.
Chief Shepherd: What are you doing?
Under-Shepherd: I am cooking up some « rightness. »
Chief Shepherd: It smells delicious!
Under-Shepherd: (beaming) Yes. Yes, it is! You see, I have taken these bits of Scripture, and tied then to these bits, and I have this logic from here and this logic from there, and voila! I have been working all morning on this! Isn’t it a masterpiece?
Chief Shepherd: All morning?
Under-Shepherd: Yes, and look how I have used almost all of what you have given me, to put it all together into this wonderful banquet!
Chief Shepherd: I did not give you this food so that you could glut yourself on « rightness. » I did not give you this time so that you could waste it all selfishly, in preparing elaborate feasts for yourself. I told you to feed my sheep. Don’t you hear them? The bleating of the little lambs is almost more than I can bear!
Chief Shepherd: What is wrong?
Under-Shepherd: I am angry. And sad. And angry. And discouraged. And ashamed. And…
Chief Shepherd: …and hungry?
Under-Shepherd: Yes, yes that too.
Chief Shepherd: Why so much pain? What happened?
Under-Shepherd: That sheep over there stole my « rightness »!
Chief Shepherd: And you are mad at him.
Chief Shepherd: Didn’t I tell you to feed my sheep?
Under-Shepherd: Well yes – that’s the thing! That’s exactly what I was trying to do!!
Chief Shepherd: Was it? Was it really?
Under-Shepherd: Yes. Of course it was. There was something he needed to know. I was trying to tell him. He was wrong and I was right…
Chief Shepherd: Uh-huh…
Under-Shepherd: …but he wouldn’t listen! It just made me so mad that he wouldn’t eat like he was supposed to! And the next thing I knew, we both had a’hold of « rightness, » and we were tugging and pulling at it, and, and, and HE WON! I fell back (*sob*) and landed on my butt and he pranced away tossing rightness – that’s my rightness – in his mouth. He thinks he’s right, but really he’s even worse off than before!
Chief Shepherd: Yes, that is probably true.
Under-Shepherd: But I thought that so long as I was on your side, I would never be wrong.
Chief Shepherd: You were not on my side at that moment.
Under-Shepherd: What are you talking about? Wasn’t it true, what I was trying to tell him?
Chief Shepherd: Yes.
Under-Shepherd: So then why wasn’t I on your side?
Chief Shepherd: Because your heart was far from me. You think you were trying to feed him? It looked to me a lot more like you were trying to milk him.
Under-Shepherd: Milk….him. Um…I don’t understand.
Chief Shepherd: My child, as different as the night is from the day, that is how different what I just saw is from what I want you to do. You watched that sheep from afar. You fixated on the one thing that you knew was wrong. You pounced on him in a moment when he was weak, and you tried to force him to change in an instant. You tried cramming down his throat something you had prepared long ago. You did not modify it to his needs. You did not care for him. Really, if you were completely honest with yourself, your aching to be fed – because you still aren’t eating enough, you know – lead you to try to take from that sheep, rather than give to him. You cared infinitely more about being right than about the wellbeing of that sheep. Even now – you are more hurt that you were proven wrong than you are sad that you have harmed one of my sheep.
Under-Shepherd: I am sad about that too. And ashamed. But mostly confused.
Chief Shepherd: Yes, you are. There is still some good in you – even though you are starving yourself and wounding my sheep to feed your misplaced appetites.
Under-Shepherd: (repentantly) What do you want me to do?
Chief Shepherd: Feast on me. Love me. Fill yourself with me. Glory in me. Fill all of your horizons, all of your longings, all of your sighings and laughter with me. Waters which you drink, which are not me, are salt-water. They will leave you thirsty for more and they will give you that crazed look of a wild beast – always on the prowl for anything to satisfy a gnawing hunger. I am fresh water – living water. Drink from me, and you will become so satisfied, you will overflow to others.
Under-Shepherd: If I am spending all of my time feeding on you, how will I find time for my sheep?
Chief Shepherd: You will find that shepherding with a full belly, and loaded down with all of the provisions and food which I will provide you with will be a very new experience. You will have to rebuild trust, of course. But the sheep know and love my voice. When the realize that I have sent you, they will come to you easily. Some will test you – but if you are really satisfied in me, they will pull the rightness right out of your hands and you will just laugh and love them anyways.
Under-Shepherd: That is hard to imagine.
Chief Shepherd: Yes, a shepherd without an ego-problem certainly is hard to imagine. But just for this reason, it is all the more powerful when it happens. And you do not know how many shepherds I have who live this every day. When the sheep realize that you do not want to wrestle with them, that you are not needy and trying to take from them, when they realize that you really care for them, they will love you and come to you. Then you will love them and feed them through their pain. Then you will truly live up to your potential. Then you will learn the meaning of the phrase « sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. » Then, I will be with you wherever you go.
Under-Shepherd: Whatever it takes, lead me to this place, my Savior!