Seal Island is about twelve miles off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia. It has a lighthouse, a bird sanctuary and two hundred fifty sheep. I worked for the man who owned the sheep and we would go out to the island to round up the sheep, shear them and take off the lambs. He liked me to go with him because I could shear sheep reasonably well and because I had a Border Collie Sheep Dog that could swim.
The sheep on the island were quite wild and were only handled once a year. When we went out to the island we set up brush corrals at one end of the island and went to the other end and began to sweep the island with our dogs. The sheep were so wild and skittish that the only way to control them was to drive them down onto the cobblestone beach. The stones would slow them down and they could be driven along the beach to the corrals.
It inevitably happened that a sheep would panic and jump into the surf and head for Portugal. She would do pretty well until the fleece got wet and then the sheep would begin to sink. I had a dog that could swim and often he could bring these sheep back. “Way to me, Flash,” I would say and send the dog out. This time the sheep was too far gone, too heavy and I had to call him back or lose both the dog and the sheep. And the sheep went down.
It is very vivid to me that the Good Shepherd came into the world to save the lost and strayed. And I can understand why the Good Shepherd must lay down His life for the sheep.
Sometimes it comes to me that I am heading in the wrong direction and that this fleece is pulling me down. And I am looking for the Good Shepherd and hoping that He will find me.
“Perverse and foolish oft I’ve strayed and yet in love He sought me
And on His shoulders gently laid and home rejoicing brought me
And so through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never
Good Shepherd may I spend my days within your house forever” Amen.