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Magical World

Wouldn't it be lovely if, with just a twitch of the nose, life, or any aspect of it could be changed. Instead, positive changes always seem to involve tremendously hard work, determination, and endless setbacks. How lovely it would be to have the powers of Samantha Stephens.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Lamb

My father chose not to raise sheep. He did that as a youth and didn't enjoy it, and really could see no financial benefit to adding those animals to our farm. In our third year of farming, however, one day my father brought home a bum lamb. Lambs are often born in pairs. It's not uncommon for the mother to abandon one and not allow it to nurse. Those are referred to as "bum lambs" and must be bottle-fed. They require lots of care and don't always live.

I have to say that lambs are very sweet. They love to be cuddled and held. We fed our lamb. We held him and cuddled him. We spoiled him rotton.

Something many people don't know about lambs is that they will often take on the characteristics of different animals with which they are raised. Our lamb spent much of his time with our very special cowdog who was also the family pet. The lamb followed the dog to the fields to round up the cows and could often be seen rolling head over heels as the cow it was chasing, who knew the lamb wasn't a dog (which just shows that the cow was more intelligent than the lamb), kicked it away. The lamb's bleating approximated barking, and it trotted over to all our guests, asking to be petted along with our dog.

Our dog was a great jumper. When we took our pickup truck to do farm work, he could always be seen sailing over the side of the pickup to ride with us in the back. We enjoyed his company immensely. After the arrival of the lamb, this process became supremely complicated. As the lamb grew more certain that he was, indeed, a dog, he also tried to jump into the pickup to ride with us. Not being able to jump quite as high as our dog, he would end up slamming into the side of the truck. Undeterred, he would get a running start and try again, repeating his collision with the truck. Again and again he would jump and slam. Finally, in pity for the stupid but determined animal, my dad would lower the tailgate so that the lamb could at least get his forelegs onto it. We would pull him in and the lamb would take his place next to our decidedly aggrieved and long-suffering dog.

There are many scriptural instances when Christ refers to himself as The Good Shepherd, and to his followers as "Lambs". After my firsthand experience with our lamb, I've never wondered if Christ has a sense of humor--he does. But it's interesting. Just as the lamb couldn't get into the pickup without help, there are many things in my life that I cannot do on my own--which doesn't mean I don't try, even when I continuously slam into a metaphorical metal wall. I'm always so grateful when a compassionate Savior lowers the tailgate and helps me in (mostly because at that point I'm really bruised and battered and it's all my own fault). I also find it very interesting that Christ compared us to an animal that takes on characteristics of the animals it follows. That ability to try to become something it is not is precisely what we are asked to do when we are told to become like Christ--an impossible task. No matter how hard we try, those around us will always see the reality, that we are human and imperfect, and sometimes unkind people will send us reeling as we are kicked away. But that trait to try to become more than we are exists in all of us, and the beautiful thing is that in the end, Christ can actually make up any deficit we may have and we can achieve what the lamb could not--we can become that which we strive to be.

Christ also refers to himself as the Lamb of God. There is much symbolism in this title, which has been pointed out to us since we were in Primary. However, the farmgirl in me prefers to believe that just as we strive to become like him, so he strives to become like his Father. There are traits of the lamb in all of us, Christ included.

The end of the story is this: We ate the lamb...he was delicious...lessons were symbolically internalized...true learning...okay, maybe not...


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