April 30, Proverbs 30, and Good Shepherd Sunday is coming – as is Spring. All to say that I love the images and lists in Proverbs 30. In verse 30 “a he-goat” is listed as one of the “stately” animals. That brings pictures to my mind. My husband and I started our missionary career in a famine relief camp in northern Kenya. 10,000 starving people surrounded our “compound.” They were nomads who had been T-boned by famine and starvation. Goat and sheep pens created from thorn bush surrounded us. No electricity or TV so I was the local entertainment as I was straight from the LA freeway and could not tell a sheep from a goat, much less milk one, so making sure I was not killing myself and to see the funny things I did was most entertaining. I had never seen live farm animals so their lifestyle was equally entertaining to me. They taught me so much about life!
Gradually I began to figure out that goat tails go up and sheep tails go down. Goats bounce around playing and sheep mill about, noses to the ground looking for food and following the leader. When the animals were brought in for the evening, the male goats would play around, rising on their hind legs, twisting their torso, tilting their head down and butt the other guy who was rising on his hind legs. I don’t know that either ever won but they loved to rise up and butt heads. The old male goat was huge, smelly, huge shouldered, long beard and “stately to behold.”
So how does that apply? As the images passed my mind of those little goats, I thought of our news media now, butting heads with each other, if not about the understanding of the virus then about elections. We watch their antics as each tries to better the other and wonder where truth lies. Sunday we will talk about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The passage has three big images, voice, gates, and leadership. The little male goats butt heads and play around but the Sheperd speaks with integrity, guards with love, and leads to green pastures. Oooooh, I feel the sermon forming!