I’ve heard of March coming in like a lion, and going out like a lamb, but what about when February’s ice storms come with lambs?… real, fuzzy, adorable lambs?!
As the cold sleet began to fall and reports of power outages throughout the South made waves, a sheep on our uncle’s farm refused her newborn. One look at the shivering, pitiful lamb, and the whole flock knew he wouldn’t make it. Always one to champion the underdog, my dad decided the lamb might be worth a shot. He delivered the animal to me in the most unconventional way: in a dusty, straw-lined Tupperware box.
My boys ran to meet the newest addition.
“What’s his name? What’s his name?”
“Maaaaaaaatt,” the sheep answered.
Little Matthew refused a bottle and could barely hold up his head. My dad wrapped the leggy lamb inside his Carhartt jacket until I could turn an old dog kennel into an orphan lamb rehabilitation… in my kitchen. I’m sure it’ll take some time until folks are ready to accept homemade cookies from the Gaynors, though I promise it was as sanitary as livestock in the house could be.
Like my nursing days, I kept careful records of feedings, output, and behavior. I consulted with helpful and pragmatic veterinarians and even administered a couple antibiotic injections. Most of the time, the advice hinted at something I didn’t want to hear: our efforts were futile.
As I cradled the gentle creature, I started to wonder about the nature of beginnings when we know the ending. I doubt I’m alone, but I’m guilty of never starting something that will eventually become difficult, time consuming, or unpleasant. For instance, that first run of the year. I’ve still delayed lacing up my shoes because, if I’m honest, I know I’ll probably start walking on the way home. And my desk? Organizing it would just be traumatic. There have been nights I’ve not said prayers because I know I’ll probably fall asleep. I’ve met so many in need of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, and I’ve not shared it because I thought I knew for sure how they’d receive it.
For some reason, even though everyone seemed to know what the outcome of tending to the crippled ram would most likely be, bottle feeding him never seemed fruitless.
All day long, we make decisions based upon perceived worth and value.
Stream one more show on Netflix. It’s worth being tired in the morning.
Eat one more slice of cake. That coconut icing is worth the extra calories.
Miss the Little League game tonight. You’ll enjoy retirement later with grandkids.
What’s funny about making decisions based upon what we think will happen and how we perceive or value that outcome is this: nothing is for sure!
Nothing but Jesus.
Trusting this, I’m also left to wonder why my value system looks nothing like God’s.
How thankful I am that God doesn’t shy away from what He knows (and He really does know!) will be difficult, time consuming, or unpleasant.
Receiving an orphan lamb at the beginning of Lent was a gift. Matthew was completely helpless. Dealing with him was difficult, time consuming, and frequently unpleasant. I can’t imagine how many times God has pursued my heart and found the terrain a difficult desert. I’m sure it’s been time consuming (all my life!) for Him to chisel away at my walls of pride and vice. How unpleasant it must be for the Creator of the Universe to know of my worldly attachments.
He knows all things, including our hearts. He is all things—the beginning and the end—and yet, He still decided we were worth everything. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, knew the loneliness and torture He would have to endure, and He decided you were worth the cross.
If you’re wondering about Matthew, everyone was right. Sort of. I’m sad he didn’t make it; however, I’m certain it was all worth it. Heaven knows why.
I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, and every day is a call to deeper conversion. Every day is an opportunity to go further in this faith journey with the Good Shepherd. Every moment is a chance for me to pick up my cross and endure it for the sake of my Savior… but that won’t ever happen unless I know what my soul was worth to Jesus.
I trust the end. I also know the middle: it’s not easy. But I have more good news: It’s not just in February or March. The Lamb of God is with us in every storm. Let us begin.