I first learned about bummer lambs when I heard Sheila Walsh telling her story to Leon Fontaine on his TV show. Sheila grew up in Scotland and her mother did accounting for farmers and shepherds. Sheila saw spring lambs being born and loved being around the ewes and their lambs. Once in awhile a ewe would give birth to a lamb and reject it. She wouldn’t feed it or accept it in any way. These lambs were called, “bummer lambs”.
If the shepherd does not take the lamb it will die of a broken spirit. A good shepherd watching his flock finds the little lamb, takes it into his home, feeds it with a bottle and keeps it warm by the fireplace. Then once in awhile throughout each day, the shepherd carries it in his arms, close to his heart so the little lamb can hear and feel his heart beat.
As the lamb spends time with the shepherd it comes to know him and recognizes his voice. When the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd puts it back in the fold with the other sheep and whenever he goes out and stands on the end of the field and calls “Sheep, sheep, sheep!” the first to come running to him are the bummer lambs.
They know his voice and they run to him as soon as they hear him call. They are not loved more than the other sheep but they believe they are loved by him and they respond to his call. When Sheila was going through a very difficult time in her life she remembered the bummer lambs. She was reminded of the shepherd’s care for those little rejected lambs.
When she was little she was a daddy’s girl but when she was 5 years old his attitude toward her changed and she didn’t understand why. One day as she was sitting on the floor playing with her dog the little dog suddenly growled. She looked up to see her dad standing behind her with his cane raised, ready to bring it down on her skull.
The look of hate on his face haunted her for many years and caused her to think there was something wrong with her that caused him to hate her that much. She questioned her value as a human being. Because he fell down when she ran, she blamed herself for his aneurysm and resulting death. She never voiced it but she tried to stuff it deep inside.
After some years of depression one day everything came to a head and she fell apart. She contacted a Psychologist friend and with his help she checked herself into a Psych ward. About 3 am. as she was sitting in the corner of the room holding onto a blanket she heard the door open. Because she was being watched she didn’t look up right away.
The man came and stood in front of her, so she looked up at him. She thought he was probably a doctor, going off duty, but afterwards she believed he was an angel. Looking at her, he placed in her hand a little stuffed toy, a tiny lamb, and he said to her, “Sheila, the Shepherd knows where to find you!” She remembered the bummer lambs.
In that moment she knew that the Lord, the good Shepherd was with her. She recalled some scriptures that she loved, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Today she says, “I’ll always be a bummer lamb.” The bummer lamb is close to the Shepherd’s heart.
Many people have suffered rejection and somehow being rejected or abandoned by a parent hurts the most. We think parents are supposed to love their children but it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it is not actually said in words but is expressed by abuse or neglect. Often our response to the hurt is not voiced but is something we carry inside.
This is not an uncommon problem. Some people who seem to have it altogether have been living with deep grief. I will mention two such people that I have heard recently tell of their own relationship with their father. Lee Strobel, author of “The Case For Grace” told of his father’s words to him, “I don’t have enough love for you to fill my little finger.”
Alex McFarland, author of “The God You Thought You knew,”said that shortly before his father died, he looked at him and said, “You’re nothing to me but a big, dumb ape.” He went out in the dark backyard and sat on a swing. He felt like he wanted to die, like his life was futile. At that moment God spoke to his spirit, “Trust Me, you have value to Me.”
In my own life I have felt the hurt of rejection by my earthly father and I understand how devastating and far reaching the consequences of that can be but my feelings of self worth can not be tied to people or circumstances that change. Like Sheila, Lee and Alex I have heard the voice of the Lord, my Shepherd, telling me I am accepted by Him!
In John 10 we have some of the most precious statements Jesus made about Himself as our Shepherd. He said, “I am the door of the sheepfold” no one gets in except through Me. “I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.” I am the good shepherd and I know My own and My own know Me.”
“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” As the good Shepherd, He goes out, looking for the bummer lambs, the lost, rejected and unloved lambs and He carries them close in His arms where they feel His beating heart.
Healing comes as the bummer lambs spend time with Jesus, our good Shepherd and we learn to know His voice. No one loves the bummer lambs like the Shepherd! Our acceptance is in Him, our worth and our value comes from His estimation of us. We are known intimately, loved deeply and greatly valued by Him.
I am a bummer lamb who wants to spend more time with Jesus, my Shepherd! I want to know His voice and follow Him!