By BRADLEY ROBERTSON
Just before Mother’s Day weekend a few weeks back, I became a shepherd, or maybe I should say, a shepherdess. Either way, it happened.
A baby lamb, becoming motherless at birth, joined our wild farm family. She gained a new mother, a new father, one sister and two brothers, and together we became a herd.
I could have never imagined the joy this one little life could bring to our home, but she did.
She was tiny at five days old, the day my eldest son Braxton stepped out of the truck holding her in his arms. She was solid white with floppy pink ears, the perfection of lamb pictures you see in children’s books and paintings.
I did not know what to expect with this little being, but she was immediately cute and quiet. She was an orphan with a new human family. She knew nothing of us, yet loved us from her first steps onto our green grass.
As Braxton gently set her down on soft ground to meet us all, the farmer said, “Here you go honey, your new baby is here!”
We both chuckled and grinned at his remark. She stretched her tiny head into the sky and began following closely behind the farmer as he made the sound of a mother sheep, “Maaaaaaaa…”
He grabbed her one item, a bottle, from the truck and walked towards me. “Here honey, you give her the bottle, so she’ll know who you are.”
I kneeled down to pet her soft, white coat and held the bottle up for her. She could not see it and poked around trying to figure out her situation. I gently pulled her mouth towards the bottle and lead her to suckle. I was not her natural mother, no smells or soft coat for her to find her way. But I found it for her, and she took the bottle without hesitation.
She began to wag her tail just like a puppy dog at play. The five of us laughed and giggled, having never known that sheep have a tail to wag, too. Her pure delight in her bottle was divine. The sweetest of times in the oddest of circumstances, and we stood together as a new family for Lamby.
My first step as her new mom was to mimic the sound of her mother just as the farmer had done. Braxton and Isaac were both excellent in the sound and so I just copied in hopes it would work.
“Maaaa, Maaaaaaaa, Maaaaaa,” I would call out, bottle in hand, walking ahead of her, hoping she would soon follow. To my quick delight, it took no time at all. She soon followed as I knelt down each time to pet her and rub her soft, sweet head; offering the bottle, a reminder that this new place was good.
That first day with our little Lamby I learned two important lessons on sheep. The first being that sheep hear the voice of the call and that becomes all they know. They only follow the one voice. They do not go back and forth, here or there, they are one way. One lifeline, one being to rely on. That voice became me. She relied fully on my call to feed her life.
And Lamby responded back every time with the same “maaaaaaa.” As if to say, “I’m here too.” And the calling would go back and forth until she felt the touch of my leg and my hands rubbing her back. Her tail would wag and wag in affection for the voice of her new mother.
The second lesson was that this is all sheep know and do. Sheep are limited in their knowing and learning of things. They only carry the instinct God put in them. She will never know her name, she will never know that I am not a sheep and she will never look into my eyes and know how much I care for her.
She only knows that there is a voice out there, somewhere, that is waiting for her.
And on the other side of that voice is family.
Isn’t this what we too long for in life? That there is someone or perhaps something that hears us and is waiting for us?
There is a knowing that out there in our great big world, there is one, single voice waiting on us too.
“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know the sound of his voice.” John 10:3-4.