Many people don't know that my husband paid a large chunk of his way through college by shearing sheep. From the time he was in early high school up until as recently as this morning, he has been faithfully shearing sheep every spring.
Last night one of his customers needed him to shear their sheep and asked him to bring me along so we could all have dinner together afterwards. While I was waiting in the car for him to finish shearing, I was reminded of the passage found in Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
The trueness of this verse rings even more true after witnessing my husband shear sheep. They make a lot of noise up until the point when he takes them in his arms, flips them on their back, and starts to shear their wool. Then they are silent. Not a noise is made until they are finished.
I learned some lessons from listening to the sheep.
First, they probably don't want to have their fleeces shorn even though it is in their best interest. They've gotten so used to the thick fluffy coat they wear that they may not even notice how dirty, tangled, and warm it has gotten. Their fleeces could be equated to our sin. How often are we satisfied to carry around the thick, mangy, and hot "fleeces" of sin instead of submitting to the Shearer who can free us of our burden? We like sheep make a lot of noise until we submit ourselves to be shorn.
Second, the sheep must allow themselves to be vulnerable in order to be shorn without harm. They are cradled on their backs between the shearers legs. One kick or move from them can result in a bad injury. They seem to know this because very rarely do they fight while the shearers are turned on. How about us? When the Lord is working on shearing us of our sin, do we submit quietly to what He's doing, or do we kick and scream and make a lot of noise which only causes us more pain in the long run?
Being on a farm and witnessing my husband interact with sheep and cattle and all that is required for caring for them has really brought me to a greater understanding of why the Lord compares us to sheep. Last night was just one more object lesson he shared with me.