For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
What follows is an excerpt from In the Shelter of the Fold by Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
She was a young two-year-old ewe, and she needed help to deliver her first lamb. The dogs had to be sent off to round her up several times before she was finally cornered. She little thought, in her obstinacy, that her capture was a favour. She was soon relieved of her burden and pain, and in no time at all that burden lay at her side — a little wet yellow bundle. But the wretch would take no notice of it, and as soon as she could, off she went, as though refusing to acknowledge any connection with it.
In spite of being brought back several times, she would take no notice of it — that poor defenceless little scrap, unable to win its mother’s love. She was possibly upset by the new experience of giving birth for the first time, and that, together with the panic caused by the dogs, made her totally ignore her natural instincts.
There was nothing for it but to drive her with the help of the dogs to the barn, to corner her there and leave the lamb with her so that she could acquaint herself with it. As it happened, they were a long way from the house, and it was no small undertaking to carry a small unlicked lamb in one’s arms, smothered as it was in yellow slime, straight from the womb! As a rule, the first thing that a sheep will do after dropping her lamb is to lick it all over, and then swallow the caul and the after-birth and all. In the wonderful order of nature, this is how the iron and some of the vitamins which her body gave the lamb while she was carrying it are returned to her.
As they came within sight of the barn, after walking about half a mile, the little lamb in John’s arms gave a bleat — his very first cry. At that, his mother stood stock still, then suddenly she turned back and looked eagerly towards the lamb. That bleating cry awoke some innate instinct in the sheep, and she reacted as though a clock had struck within her. She responded at once. How wonderful! That bleat, which she had never heard before, told her with absolute certainty that it was her very own lamb.
John could not put the lamb down soon enough; she claimed it that very moment. They were left there together as quickly and as quietly as possible, and she did not leave its side until she had licked it clean. The last glimpse of them showed the lamb sucking away to its heart’s content. There they were, an inseparable pair, with the lamb assured of all the love and care that a woolly mother can give to her offspring. John, filthy and wet to the skin, came back to the house, not only to wash himself and change his clothes, but to tell the story with joyful wonder.
All that the shepherd could do was to bring them, mother and lamb, together. That is also the work of every messenger of the truth, every servant of God. He is to bring the good news of the gospel to the ears of the people, to bring within their reach the good news of the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was instinct that made the lamb bleat, and it was instinct that made the mother answer its cry. And it is an instinct, which God through His grace has planted in His children by the Holy Spirit, that awakens the cry, ‘Abba, Father’, within us. When that happens, God never fails to answer. Then there will be relationship and fellowship, and we shall inherit all the love’ and the care which is in God for us.