It has been said that sometimes the loving shepherd must break the leg of his wandering lamb, and then carry him on his shoulders, that the lamb may bond to the shepherd, and learn to not stray again from the safety of the fold.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." -Isaiah 53:6
Along a craggy edifice of stone
A little lamb trod, restless and alone
Where chill winds roamed and cried and writhed and crashed
Along the naked gorge where lightnings lashed
With thunderous voices plunging caverns long
In blackness, where the lamb did not belong.
Alone, alone, down narrow stair and height
Where fear struck blind the little lamb’s clear sight
And made him wish himself back in the fold
From which he’d wandered when his heart was cold;
He’d done it so before these many times,
And knew each pitfall of the treacherous climes.
Why had he left?—why left the gentle side
Of Shepherd dear whose rod had never lied
When guiding him so often back to home
And saved him from the danger when to roam
Thrice left him helpless, bleeding in the way
Where Shepherd found him at the end of day?
Yet now the night was dark, the blackness worse
Than any night before—was it a curse?
A wolf along that ridge!—it howled long,
And shadows swallowed up its eerie song,
While trembling faint the lamb looked down the ledge
And wished himself back safely in the hedge.
But he was lost—lost in a frightful mine,
A labyrinth of lies where souls repine
For guilt, and fear, and unresolved regret
For oft repeated warnings he had set
Himself against but wished that he had not—
For who could tell?—now death must be his lot!
He sank himself the precipice along,
And willed his heart admit he had been wrong
To leave again… his voice in bleating rent
The silent tomb the earth had to him lent
To be his own. He shuddered—even still
This grief could never break his stubborn will!
On rocks and thistles there he lay in shame
When drifting on a gust he heard his name…
Was it? or had he merely dreamed the sound?
Perchance the wolf him for his repast found!
Oh listen—footsteps on the jagged path!
Wolf or Shepherd—both would deal him wrath!
“Little lamb, why hast thou wandered off?
Why left again, my leading thus to scoff?
I watched for thee, and left the fold at last
Because I knew you’d not withstand the blast
Of this foul storm—you’re weak and foolish still;
I know the stubborn nature of your will,
So thus I came, with rod and staff to save
You from yourself by virtue of my stave.”
The Shepherd! Stooping down he took the lamb
Into his arms—it seemed the tears of man
Ran down his face and drenched the sullied wool
That stank with mud and dung and blood—the whole
To cleanse, it seemed, the layers of regret
Away, and leave it white and clean and kept.
“And now, my own,” the Shepherd gently said—
And then the lamb looked in his eyes and read:
“The next step doubtless will leave you in pain
But trust my love—the good shall then remain.”
The thunder crashed; the rain poured down in sheets:
“Now trust my love,” the Shepherd soon repeats…
“My little lamb, lie still on this green sward;
The Shepherd whom you left is still your Lord,
And He is here so that you’ll never want
Through valleys deep and rocks that horrors haunt;
His Rod is love; do not resist the blow
That it must deal—it’s done so that you’ll know
That He who loves you best will do what’s right
To draw you from your darkness into Light.”
The little lamb glanced up at the dread Rod,
Then shut his eyes as from the face of God
While down it came—fair mercy mixed with pain,
And struck against his leg and left him lame,
And writhing for a moment in his way
Repenting him his habit to betray.
And then he felt a touch—a tender Hand
Extending down into the firebrand
Of his stiff heart, and then he shuddered sore
And vowed that he would never wander more,
For this soft touch—this healing reaching down
From heaven—was it on him like a crown?
“My lamb, My own,” thus said the gentle Voice;
“The path away you wandered by your choice
When fear had planted in your mind foul seed
And made you question Me, and doubts to feed,
But still redemption waits in the strong Arm
Of One who bled to keep your soul from harm;
Receive My help in pain or passion true:
My Rod but struck to make the lame one new.”
Then taking up the lamb into His arms
The Shepherd said, “You shall not fear alarms
When by my side—My shoulders, they are strong
And there for you, to hold you up from wrong
When you are weak, or hurting your own self
They’re there to raise you up from evil’s stealth,
And be for you the substitute of legs
When your own strength is emptied to the dregs.”
So warm, so close, so near and comforting—
The shoulders of the Man absorbed the sting
At the lamb’s heart—“All thy iniquity,
O lamb, I’ve took, and laid the whole on Me.
Now wait, and watch, and pray—do not despair;
You’re lameness will remind you I am there
To suture up a heart thus gushing blood;
My Arms to lift you out of your life’s mud.”
Along the gorge and slipp’ry rocks they went
In steady haste: their focus home was bent
Without delay. No backward glance implied
That the meek lamb had to himself not died;
Instead his eyes looked onward through the storm,
And fixed themselves on promise of the morn
That’d surely come—for tears would never last!
The Shepherd came to uplift the downcast!
“He came for me! My cry did not evade
His ears—He heard, and took me from the shade
Of all my fears… I’ll trust Him now with all,
And never once again ignore His call!”
The rain at last ceased battle with the night:
And torments of his mind at last took flight.
“We’re nearly there, My precious little one!
Hold on to Me—someday you soon will run
With other lambs again up those green hills
And dash with pleasure in the stream that fills
The lake with blue, and clear, and sweet water—
One day—Yes! your steps will never falter!”
It was not long—they soon had reached the edge
Of those dark woods, and left behind the ledge
Of the deep caves and caverns bleak and cold,
And now they stood within a field of gold
Where sun and heat was flooding down the sky,
And birds were singing with a joyful cry
Through bars of light and shade and distant climes
That made the lamb forget the dreadful times.
The days went by; in love the Shepherd took
The lamb upon Himself, and in the brook
He washed him clean—each spot and ugly stain—
And with his oil anointed every pain
In leg and heart: there was no more to see
Of all the stabs the lamb would never be
To his own self again, for he was new—
The Shepherd’s Rod was faithful and was true!
“You see, My lamb, how much My heart has yearned
To see you whole in light of all you’ve learned
Through that long night when all you had was lost,
And all your life seemed what your choice had cost…
It seemed—but listen close, My fearful one:
There is an Arm that rescues the undone,
And sets them up in sovereign lights of grace,
And plans the start and end of their long race.
I know the stubborn nature of your will—
I know it, and the Rod must sometimes kill
The thing that lambs will cling to in their fear
So that they’ll know the Shepherd holds them dear…
Indeed, He holds them up next to His heart
So that they’ll never from His side depart.
And now that you are whole and run with speed,
Remember that another lamb might need
A word, a look, a gesture from your life
To lift them from the tangle of their strife.
You’ll tell them then just what I have told you
As even now you rest in love that’s true…
‘Be still, thou fondest lamb, and rest on Me:
Each wound you suffer I will bear for thee.’”
5 thoughts on “The Rod and the Lamb”
Beautiful poem Brooklyn! I just love how you painted such a vivid, real life picture with your words…I could pretty much see that lamb’s story happening in my mind as if I were actually watching it. And the way you described the shepherd-what a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father.
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Thank you, Sydney 🙂 I’m glad to hear the story could touch you in that way. Bless you.
This poem seems written for me. I was close to God in my youth, baptized in 1989, but fell away for a long time. In 2016, someone gave me some marijuana they called “God Weed.” Right after smoking it, I broke my leg severely! Now I have two plates and 15 screws in my leg. That was a turning point for me, and now I am a Christian again. I know it was God doing to me exactly what your poem describes. Until now, I just had Psalm 51:8 “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” to remind me. Now I have your poem as well. Thank you. I am so impressed by you and your large family’s lifestyle. It is a testament to the blessings God gives to His people. Best wishes and thanks from a vegetable farmer in Oregon.
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Thank you for what you shared, Jeff. It is an encouragement to me and readers here on the blog to hear some of your story, and how you are able to identify with this poem in light of your own personal testimony. Hallelujah. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5. Keep sharing with others the testimony God has given to you!
Thanks for the reply, Brook!
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