[Flocking and following]
One of my favorite songs right now is a song by Tenth Avenue North called ‘What You Want.’ Aside from it being catchy, and up beat… It was the lyrics that made the most impact on me. But one line in particular, spoke volumes to me: “So many leaders. You ask for Followers.” How EASY it is to forget who is really who, and to assume the lead. We call ourselves His followers, but do we truly follow Him?
Yesterday as I scrolled up and down the channels in search of something worth watching–weary of cooking shows–I happened upon the ever promising nature show. It was a show about Stone sheep or Stone’s sheep. As the narrator started to describe the Stone sheep, he remarked that sheep are pack animals that were made to follow. And I swear, if you had been there in the room, and you were listening closely, you could have heard that *click!* (The sound my brain made as those three words MADE TO FOLLOW made the connection.) Well, Of course!
How many times have you heard sheep described as simply dumb animals to explain why Jesus refers to us as His flock? I’ve even used the analogy myself. And while it may still ring with truth (Lets face it we certainly DO NEED to be lead.) How encouraging is it to know that we we’re also MADE to follow? We’ve been wired this way.
Sheep, as the case may be, are known for their strong flocking (herding) and following instinct. As they run from what frightens them they instinctively ban together for protection. This is apparently their ONLY protection from predators. There is safety in numbers. Is it a wonder that our Lord wants us to be as one… united? It is much more difficult for a predator to pick a sheep out of a group than to go after a few strays. It sounds like sheep have a bit of wisdom after all, right? But don’t be fooled, this is still instinct. They’ve been programmed that way. But instinct alone is not enough.
Unfortunately instinct is not in fact wisdom. We like to think that we have it all figured out. We even pat ourselves on the back when we get something right. But how quickly we are lead astray because we follow our instincts.
The flocking instinct of sheep is apparently so strong that it caused the death of 400 sheep in Turkey in 2006. When one sheep moves, the rest will follow, EVEN if it’s not a good idea. (How dumb is that!?) If you’ve ever heard of, or played the video game ‘Lemmings’ (OLD video game…) you’ll know exactly where this is headed. That flock in Turkey, lead themselves to their own doom, and plunged 15 meters to their death, when a single sheep tried to cross a ravine. The rest of the flock then followed. The sad truth is, it’s just as easy for us to do the very same thing.
It’s said that from birth Lambs are taught to follow the older members of the flock; ewes encourage the lambs to follow; the dominant members of the flock lead, then the submissive ones. If there is a ram in the flock he usually leads.
There is a lot we can take away from that; and God’s plan can be seen in the the things He has created. His fingerprints are plastered over it all, which I’m finding pretty wonderful. The bottom line is that as the sheep of His flock, we need to be tuned to Him.
I’m learning that we are vulnerable when we go it alone as well, and even more so, if we don’t do it by The Book. (Literally, the Bible.) We are vulnerable when we don’t follow what we’ve clearly been taught. We don’t have to live like we’re blind, because in Jesus our eyes have been opened.
“A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Instinct is only part of the equation. We we’re clearly made to Follow; but the question remains: who will you follow?
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” –Psalm 100:3