The Bible talks a lot about sheep and goats. Jesus is referred to as both the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd. People are compared to either sheep or goats. (Hint: you don't want to be a goat!)
For several years now, I have felt God saying He will use different events and circumstances to separate the sheep from the goats. Is Covid-19 one of those events? What's the difference between sheep and goats anyway?
There are lots of resources out there about their differences, but allow me to give one main litmus test.
John 10:27 says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
Seems simple enough. Know God's voice, be known by Him and follow Him. But how many of us can say we hear His voice? Are we in the habit of listening for it?
Goats might hear their goatherd's voice, but they are pretty indifferent to it. They have their own ideas of how they want to spend their day. The world is their oyster and virtually nothing is off-limits. Sound familiar?
In times of peril, it is imperative for us to listen to God's leading voice. He sees the pitfalls and obstacles ahead and can help us navigate them. He can comfort our frayed nerves when we are lost and afraid. He heals our wounds and leads us to safety and freedom. He's my Good Shepherd, if I will allow Him to be.
To extend the metaphor, normally we are left to roam the pasture with God watching over us from a relative distance. We are left to graze and frolic as we see fit. But there are times when the Shepherd's voice calls out and commands immediate attention. As a family, we are in that season now.
In this season, we feel like God is giving us step-by-step instructions to cross even the smallest distance. We can't seem to make any decisions on our own! Can I tell you how frustrating it is to feel like I have no control over my future? To have to wait and pray before I say yes or no to an opportunity? It's getting really old, really quick. But I have to trust that if I am sensing His leading voice so regularly, it's because we are in urgent times.
By nature, I'm a goat. I want to go where I want, eat what I want, fight with who I want, and disregard anyone who would try to tame me.
I think there are a lot of us in the church who perceive ourselves as sheep, but more often than not, we are missing the voice of our Shepherd. If we hear it, do we follow? Or disregard? Or delay obedience?
What is God saying to you? What new pasture is He leading you to, if you will only heed Him? What perils could you have avoided if you'd followed His voice?
Being a sheep means listening instead of charging ahead with your own plans. It requires letting go of your own agenda and trusting that God sees what's ahead and His desire is for your best. Remembering these things, and centering my heart on them, helps me to be "sheepish" and not a goat.