… but not in a good way at all!
And as I rode the quad back down the steep hill to a flat feeding place they all followed me (and the feed bag propped prominently on the front rack) at a quick pace. And the hovering swarm of blow-flies a foot above their backs all came along and followed us too.
The conditions were dangerous for ‘fly strike’, the weather was warm and there’d been rain and it was time now to call in the shearers. This wasn’t any time to just dither …
Now shearing is a rough-looking business.
It’s noisy, as the bleating of lambs separated from their mothers meets the noise of the equipment and the complaints of ewes grabbed, turned and up-ended then shorn of all their ‘comfy’ but potentially lethal fleece.
It’s physical as those 70-80 kg. ewes fight and kick and have to be pinned down for the source of their problems to be removed. But only when they are shorn of all that extra luxuriance will they be rid of their life-threatening parasites. The other option is maggots in their flesh.
It’s messy, because those sheep are usually now due for worming and have mucky rear ends, and they’ve just been out on the hill in those fleeces picking up dirt here and there but been washed only by the dew and the rain … and then there’s also a load of sheep sweat and lanolin in there. Oh yes … it’s a messy business getting to grips with all that!
… and sometimes they kick or convulse in an ill-thought-out effort to escape, and the chattering, razor-sharp reciprocating blades of the shearers’ hand piece draws blood.
Shearing is not something they will look forward to … but only when they are shorn of all that extraneous growth will they be rid of their life-threatening parasites.
The other option is maggots in their flesh.
Which really isn’t much of an option …
And it’s really the wriggling during shearing that causes the harm …
Now don’t get me wrong – fleece is GREAT … in itself.
But it can get to be too much of a good thing, so that blood sucking parasitic flies make their home in it … and when this luxuriance becomes the habitat of things that destroy life, it really needs to be grappled and got rid of.
And when God tries to shear us of the habitat in our lives of things that would suck the life blood from us, and infect us with life-cheapening and life-threatening disease … how are we going to respond?
When Jesus called people to follow Him in times gone by there was usually something that needed to be got shot of and left behind to follow Him.
For Peter, James and John it was fishing boats.
For Levi son of Alphaeus it was the takings on his tax collector’s booth (money he should never have extorted).
Often for those guys it was just outright blatant life-cheapening sin that needed leaving.
Other times it was something that was legitimate in and of itself, that was camouflage habitat for something totally disruptive and destructive of life.
But always there was something to be cast off, walked away from, left behind that needed to be peeled away and left to be able to live safely and richly … to live following along behind Jesus.
He’s got a great funny story about camels and needles that He uses to clear up the point …
That camel is really going to need a good diet plan if he’s ever going to get through that needle!
Now I know there’s a Biblical word for all this – but shearing gives a pretty fair idea of what ‘repentance’ is all about.
So that doesn’t sound very appealing?
Sheep aren’t really too keen on shearing to start with, either … and they wriggle and struggle and kick.
I can understand that. They hear all that noise and see all that pinning down and shearing and it looks and sounds like it’s going to be grim.
But when a sheep has been shorn and is released by the shearer, it always jumps, leaps and scampers away … seeming to bounce with joy over the weight of all that vulnerability that’s been lifted from its back.
… and there’s a lesson in that for me and you.
You see …. when the crowd at the first sermon ever preached for the church heard what Peter had to say about Jesus they realised something fresh. They saw stuff that had got out of hand in their lives and left them with LIFE-threatening areas of vulnerability … so they just cried out aloud there in public: ‘What must we do to be saved?!’
So WHAT is the answer to THAT one?
Peter said “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Have you got stuff that needs to go before it hurts you any more?
Would it actually be a mercy to get to shearing time at your place?
… you just really can’t afford to hesitate when you hear and you see all that buzzin’