The first time we took Christian to visit his Scottish family was at Christmas and he was two years old. Although he was happy to meet everyone but not so sure about the accent of the Scottish Santa, he was definitely interested in the sheep.
You probably know that Scotland is a land of sheep. If you drive down the west coast where I grew up you will pass field after field of very white sheep. I’ve always been fascinated by them and how the image of Christ as our Good Shepherd appears throughout Scripture. I’ve learned much about Jesus’ tender care of His flock by studying sheep, especially those that shepherds call “bummer lambs”.
Bummer lambs have, for one reason or another, been rejected by their mothers. If, for instance, a ewe has triplets and only enough milk for two, she will turn away the third. If a ewe is old or sick, she may reject a lamb. To preserve the lives of those unwanted bummer lambs, the shepherd has to take the lamb into his home and bottle-feed it. He’ll hold the lamb to keep it warm and so that it can hear a heartbeat. When the lamb is strong enough to return to the flock, the shepherd takes it there. And in the morning or at the end of the day from then on, when the shepherd calls to the sheep, the first ones to run to him are the bummer lambs because they know his voice.
When my life fell apart as I struggled with depression, I thought my life was over. I had no idea then that any kind of gift could come from brokenness. But Jesus is close to us when we are broken, and He carries us for as long as we need Him to. It’s not that He loves the bummer lambs more than the stronger ones, it’s just that we bummer lambs experience His tender love in a very personal way that makes us ever so confident in His great love for us.
Jesus rescued me and nursed me back to health. What began as bad news became the greatest news of all: Jesus loves His bummer lambs so much!
If you find yourself in a broken place, let the Shepherd carry you this Christmas.