Author's Note: My mother passed away several years ago, but I still have, mixed in with other papers, stories, and other writings penned by her. She actually did quite a lot of writing and was sometimes published in a few, small magazines. Always her words are insightful. I ran across this piece a few days ago and thought I'd share it here. The original is typewritten (Mother did most of her writing before computers were prevalent) so I scanned it and ran it through an OCR engine. Surprisingly, the OCR scan required very little correcting and what you see below is mostly just as she typed it. Enjoy the read.
THE UNHAPPY SHEEP
by Roselee Reagan
Once upon a time there was an unhappy sheep. Life had not been good to this sheep. The farmer who owned her always beat her. The other sheep were always kicking Unhappy away. Sometimes they would even butt her into the fence and hurt her. They would often say unkind things that made poor little Unhappy feel bad.
Finally one day the farmer who owned the sheep family sold Unhappy sheep at the market. A Shepherd bought her. This Shepherd was big and tall and when he first saw Unhappy, he smiled at her, and then he reached down, took her head in his hands, looked in her eyes, and said, "I love you, little sheep." He never called her by the name “Unhappy” and if she only knew it he had a new and special name for her.
Unhappy’s heart responded to the Shepherd’s love. She loved him back and wanted to be with him all the time. But she had never had anyone do anything nice for her before. She didn’t understand that the Shepherd wanted only to do kind and good things for her. She thought that she still had to find her own grass and search for her own watering hole. She knew that grass and water were hard to find and spent a lot of time thinking about how she would ever find the things she needed. In fact, she was thinking so hard about this that she didn’t notice when the Shepherd led the rest of the flock out to green pastures and let them lie down next to clear, still waters. Unhappy didn’t follow the Shepherd – she didn’t even see him when he led the flock out.
So Unhappy went out by herself and instead of green, tasty grass, she found dry brown weeds. Instead of clear, clean water to drink, she found an old mud hole with a puddle of water in the middle. Unhappy was even more unhappy now. It was hard for her to even remember the love she saw in the Shepherd’s eyes.
However, she did need a drink and although the puddle in the mudhole didn’t look very good, it was water. She carefully started walking across the dried mud being very careful where she placed her feet. But no matter where she placed her feet they sank into the mud and soon she was stuck fast.
The Shepherd, of course, knew what was happening with Unhappy. He had watched her all day long so that he could keep her safe. When she became stuck in the mud, he went to her, pulled her out of the mud, and gave her a drink out of his own water bottle.
He carried her to safe ground. Then he looked at her and, kindly and firmly said, "Follow me." But Unhappy was already thinking about how she was going to find another mouthful to eat and she didn’t even hear him.
Day after day this happened. Unhappy would get stuck in the mud, or the brambles, or fall over a cliff, and the Shepherd would rescue her. It seemed like it would never end and Unhappy began to think that the Shepherd didn’t really love her and that she would never be happy.
Finally, one day she was so tired and so sad that she just couldn’t go on. She felt abandoned and unloved. Her leg was caught under a rock and she couldn’t get up. She began to bleat and cry for anyone who would come and help. Then she felt a hand on her head and heard the voice of the Shepherd.
His voice was deep, soft, and kind. "Little sheep," said the Shepherd, "I have rescued you from the mud and the cliff and the thorn and the rock. Each time I asked you to follow me. Each time you have gone on feeding yourself dry brown weeds and finding muddy water for yourself and have not believed that I love you and will take care of you. Little sheep, I have a new name for you. Come and learn what it is."
He reached down and removed the rock, healed her leg, and set her on her feet. Then looking deep into her eyes he said, “Follow me," and began walking away.
Little sheep was afraid to follow the Shepherd. She was afraid that he wouldn’t keep his promise to take care of her. But she knew that she could never find green grass or clean water by herself. And, after all, the Shepherd had paid a high price for her. So this time she followed the Shepherd with slow, stumbling steps.
In the Mountains of Light, there is a valley, green, warm, and well-watered. There the Great Shepherd watches his flock. There is one sheep in His flock who always comes when He calls. Her eyes are always on her Shepherd and she always follows Him wherever He goes. The Shepherd often calls her to Him so that He can hold her close and have her near. They live there in peace and joy and the Shepherd always watches over His flock.