Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Little Lambs and the Big, Bad Wolf

Once upon a time, there was a family by the name of Lamb. The Lambs were a happy family made up of Mr. and Mr. Lamb and all their little Lambs given to them by their loving Shepherd. When the Lambs were tiny, they would stay in the pasture with their parents and eat what they ate, walk where they walked, and sleep where they slept. As they got older, Mr. and Mrs. Lamb realized the Shepherd wanted them to teach the little Lambs how to love the Shepherd and take dominion over the Pasture. That would require skills like math, science, writing, and history. At first, Mr. and Mrs. Lamb did what the other families around them did. They sent them to the highly acclaimed Wolf Academy to be educated like all the others in their neighborhood. However, as the little Lambs spent more time at the Academy, they began to forget how to drink from quiet waters, how to lie down in green pastures, and how to fear the Shepherd. They didn't want to eat what their parents ate or walk where they walked or sleep where they slept. Instead, they became adept at things they learned at the Academy, like baring their teeth and attacking the other Lambs. Mr. and Mrs. Lamb were very alarmed, and one day, they decided to pull the little Lambs out of Wolf Academy.

But, oh, the uproar! The teachers at Wolf Academy were angry with Mr. and Mrs. Lamb. "There is more to life than knowing your shepherd," they snarled. "Why, we don't even know if he exists. We have never actually seen this so-called shepherd." This only served to make the Lamb family more determined than ever to teach their own children. It was very hard. They didn't always have the right books, and it took a great many hours of their own time reviewing what they had learned when they were little Lambs themselves. But they were motivated by their love for their Lambs and their desire to please the Shepherd. And the Shepherd said, "Fear not. I will gently lead those that are with young." So, in spite of the very hard work, they applied themselves diligently and loved the Shepherd and understood the Pasture. Other Lamb families began to notice this, and they, too, educated their little ones themselves. And those little ones, too, grew up to be intelligent, articulate Lambs who walked with the Shepherd and took care of the Pasture.

But then something dreadful happened. As the years went by--about twenty to be exact--the big Lambs forgot why they were doing all this work. They envied the ease and leisure of the parents who sent their little Lambs to Wolf Academy. They complained of the long hours it took to teach their children expertly about the Shepherd and the Pasture. But they were still intelligent enough to know that the Wolf Academy would take the 'lambiness' out of their children. Oh, what to do, what to do? They grew discontented and lazy. And their complaining and laziness dulled their once sharp minds....

Then one day a new Lamb came into the pasture. He was a very intelligent Lamb. Why, he was so smart that he had actually taught at Wolf Academy. He had even taught at Wolf University! His name was Mr. Ram, and not only was he very smart, he was very shrewd--and quite the businessman. One day, he called a meeting of all the Lamb parents in the Pasture.

"As you know, I have spent lots of time outside the pasture honing my amazing math skills and then teaching them to other little ones. I can see that you parents really do not know how to teach math to your little Lambs. In fact, you are very poor at it. If you keep trying to do this yourselves, your little Lambs are not going to be good at all at taking care of the Pasture when they grow up. Then what will the Shepherd say? He will be very disappointed in you, of course."

The parent lambs were very sad. They knew how much time it took to teach their children. And math, as everyone knows, is nearly impossible to teach without just the right college degree. While they could not justify sending the little Lambs to Wolf Academy, they considered that no harm would come to the little Lambs by only spending one hour every week taking pre-algebra with Mr. Ram. So they acquiesced. But still, there were some who regarded Mr. Ram with caution. He had bad breath, and they thought they caught an occasional glimpse of fangs.

And another year went by. And still the Shepherd reminded the flock, "I will gently lead those who are with young."

Then, one day, Mr. Ram called another meeting. "Your kids have been with me for a year now, and you now know for yourself just how amazing I am. You also now know just how preposterous was your own intention of long ago to teach your children math. But there is another problem. Your children also need science. You know you don't have the credentials to teach your own children science. It would be foolish for you to think you could, just as it was foolish for you to think you could teach them math. And you do not want to disappoint the Shepherd. Therefore, I will help you please the Shepherd. I will teach science to your little Lambs." So the little Lambs left their parents each week now for two hours, one for math and one for science. And how the mother Lambs rejoiced in two hours of free time, and how the father Lambs rejoiced in not having to talk anymore about math and science! But some Lambs still smelled the bad breath and saw glimpses of fangs.

And another year went by. And still the Shepherd reminded the flock, "I will gently lead those that are with young."

The next year, Mr. Ram called another meeting. "My dear parents, now you know how amazing I am at teaching your lambs math and science. But the Shepherd does not want your lambs to only know math and science. He wants them to know how to write. If you let me have just one more hour with your children every week, I will teach them how to write. After all, you don't really think, do you , that you are qualified to teach them to write? What would the Shepherd say?" And so the Lambs spent three hours every week being tutored by Mr. Ram. And the parents now had three uninterrupted hours of peace. But some of the Lambs remained stubbornly suspicious of Mr. Ram and continued to keep their little Lambs close. His wool seemed to tilt oddly to one side.

And another year went by. And still the Shepherd reminded the flock, "I will gently lead those that are with young."

The following year, Mr.Ram again assembled the parents and again reminded them of his amazing skills and vast knowledge. "Poor silly, stupid Lambs," he gently scoffed, looking through his spectacles and over his long snout at them. "After all these years, do you still insist on trying to teach your Lambs? The most important things your Lambs need to know in order to take proper dominion of the Pasture is how to think and how to view the world. If you cannot teach your little ones math or science or writing, do you still kid yourselves that you can teach them the most important thing? How to think? Why, you're not even certified!!!" The Lambs shook their heads in shame. Of course, Mr. Ram was right. What were they thinking? And they turned their little ones over to him for history and worldview and literature and anything else that required deep, difficult thought. The parents sighed happily and contentedly. Now they could do the things that really pleased the Shepherd, like work and ministry and Bible studies. And their little Lambs would grow up to be amazingly brilliant just like Mr. Ram. How pleased the Shepherd must be with them now! But still, some of the lambs clung to their little ones and appealed to the Shepherd for assistance as they rolled up their sleeves and trudged on teaching math, science, writing, history, literature, and worldview themselves.

And the years went by. And the Shepherd reminded the flock, "I will gently lead those that are with young." But only a few of the families were listening anymore. It was easier to listen to what Mr. Ram said about the Shepherd than to what the Shepherd said Himself.

And before anyone realized it, the little Lambs were full-grown adults! And all of them were ready to go off to University so they could come back and take serious dominion over the Pasture. And the little Lambs taught by their parents were intelligent and articulate and wise. They encountered fangs, bad breath, and lopsided wool at University, but it was repulsive to them, and they wisely kept their distance. Most importantly, they loved their parents, and they loved the Pasture, and they loved the Shepherd. They were strong and good. They took wise dominion over the Pasture and pleased the Shepherd. They enjoyed eating what their parents ate and walking where their parents walked and sleeping where their parents slept. The Shepherd was very pleased. He blessed them with little Lambs of their own and whispered to them, "I will gently lead those that are with young."

The Lambs who were taught by Mr. Ram went off to University and met a pack of wolves. But they were not at all alarmed by the sharp teeth or the bad breath. And sadly, the Lambs put themselves in the path of the wolves. And the wolves, being wolves, devoured the Lambs. Many of them died of their wounds. Some, beaten and bloodied, limped home to the Pasture. But they did not seek help from their parents. Hadn't Mr. Ram repeatedly reminded them how unqualified their parents were? Besides, now they were unaccustomed to what their parents ate and where they walked and where they slept. They did recall some occasional mention of a shepherd. But that was only minimal. And what could he do, anyway? And so, the bruised lambs left the Pasture and the protection of the Shepherd for good. The saddest thing of all was that their parents never did figure out why they lost their precious little ones to the wolves.

And the Shepherd cried.

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