By Stephanie Parker
My husband, Brett, has a new obsession: Goats. We recently moved to the country. My husband thought he’d commemorate this life event with livestock. Brett knew NOTHING about goats nor was he raised near any farm animal to speak of, but that didn’t stop him. We now have 50 chickens, 7 cows, 17 goats and a pig named, “Crispy Bacon.” Out of all of our newly acquired livestock, the goats are the apple of my husband’s eye. He is quickly becoming familiar with ‘goat lingo.’ And yes… there is such a thing as ‘goat lingo!’ He is also now a proud member of the National Boar and Goat Association. In his free time, he can be found scrolling through Facebook feeds of goats, and every once in a while, he will show me one he’s particularly enamored with. I suppose I should be thankful it’s goats!
The other day, we got a male goat so we could breed…wait for it… MORE GOATS! Shortly after purchasing this Billy (a male goat), Brett was in the pasture looking the other way and I watched as Billy locked eyes with my husband’s rear end and charged! What I saw next, astounded me! My husband’s eyes got wide and his ‘goat senses’ kicked in…. it was the same look that Spider-Man gets when his “Spidey senses” turn on. Brett charged the goat back! Keep in mind, Brett still hasn’t traded in his flip-flops and jersey shorts for practical farmer attire so goat hair and flip-flops went flying when this battle of the wills ensued. The wrestling match lasted quite a few minutes until that goat didn’t dare attempt another charge. The whole time, I’m standing there with my mouth agape, wondering what in the world has gotten into him… my husband… not the goat. Brett explained later that he had to show his dominance in order to establish control over the goat. Needless to say, I won’t be stepping foot into that pasture any time soon.
So why am I sharing this random goat story? Well, the other day, I was reading part of Matthew 25 and, for the first time in my life, I asked myself this question: “Am I a sheep or a goat?”
Check out what it says, in Matthew 25: 31-33, 41: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left….Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
There are clearly eternal ‘RAM’ifications if we don’t understand these verses (pun intended). In order to comprehend why Jesus clearly isn’t fond of goats, you have to know the nature of a goat versus that of a sheep.
Seventeen goats later, I have discovered that goats can be very ornery, independent and defiant creatures. They run their own show and don’t listen to the call of their owner. They are extremely self-serving and strong-willed. The females usually aren’t as bad but male goats are down right nasty! I refer to our Billy as, “the dirty old man.”
Goats are the perfect species to exhibit the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Typical fences that would contain sheep, horses or cattle, will not work on goats. Goats will try to climb and escape anything that confines them. As a result, they require fencing that would rival some high security prisons. They are never content with the plush grass in the pasture, which is why you will often see our goats on their hind legs reaching for leaves on the tree just on the OTHER SIDE of the fence. What’s more, goats will eat ANYTHING… even garbage.
How often do WE display some of the same characteristics of goats… even as Christians? We can get so focused on filling our lives with material ‘garbage’ that we miss being filled by the Spirit. Discontent with “the grass in our pasture,” we are constantly trying to climb the ‘ladder’ that will bring us the satisfaction we long for. We struggle with concept of ‘obedience to God’ because we are so self-motivated and self-focused. We would prefer to listen to the call of our friends, society or our ‘feelings’ than the Word and call of God.
Sheep, on the other hand, are much more docile, gentle and obedient. They are willing and ready to follow the call of their shepherd. You could actually mix two separate flocks of sheep together and each shepherd would be able to unscramble his flock from the other simply by the sound of his voice. Sheep have complete trust in their shepherd because they recognize that they don’t possess any skills on their own to defend themselves against predators. They know that every meal is reliant on their shepherd leading them to green pasture, so they gladly follow their shepherd wherever he leads without resistance.
Here’s the kicker. Jesus doesn’t want us to be sheep so that we brainlessly follow and obey him without resistance. He desires to lead us as a shepherd leads his flock so that he can PROTECT us and give us a life of green pastures and quiet waters. Jesus himself said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).” That’s not to say that lions and wolves won’t come, but if a sheep stays near his shepherd, the shepherd will sacrifice his very life to protect the sheep. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11).” Jesus knows that it’s in our willing obedience that he’s able to give us a life of contentment, hope, joy and peace. He longs to give this to us because he LOVES us.
But you can’t get the benefits of the Shepherd without becoming a sheep.
A sheep abides in, hopes in, trusts in, believes in and follows his shepherd. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete (John 15:9-11).
To become a sheep, you might have to give up a life of independence for a life of reliance, obedience and trust in the Shepherd, but the alternative, is a goat’s life. Independence from God ultimately leads to discontentment, a life of eating ‘garbage’ and charging after things that will never truly satisfy. I know this from experience. So what do you choose? Will you be a goat or a sheep?
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Stephanie Parker has 3 main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids! When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business. She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need. Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development. After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family! You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.