In any event, it saw me about the same time as I saw it, at about a two hundred yard distance. I continued on my walk; but it became aggressive and quickly closed the difference between us. I kept an eye on it until I had passed it up, and then continued on my way assuming the little crisis had passed.
But after I had ventured another hundred or so yards down the road, I happened to hear the pat of footprints quickly approaching form behind me. I immediately wheeled around and confronted the creature, whereupon he stopped and growled. I turned to walk away; but he came on again. This time I turned, and raising my arms to make myself appear bigger, I charged him. At this, he backed away.
I backed away from him, making my way down the road. I soon came to a crossroads, where the road I was on crosses a main highway. As traffic regularly roars up and down this road, I was sincerely hoping the dog would not follow me. The last I saw of him, he was standing at the corner of that intersection, assumingly trying to decide whether or not to cross and pursue me further.
As I made my way along, I wondered whether or not I would encounter the dog again. I also thought about how I would respond if the dog came at me again. I was some ways down the road and fairly deep in my thoughts when a local farmer pulled up and stopped me.
I initially thought he might be about to inquire about the dog. So I was caught off guard when he asked me if I had seen a calf. He gave a description and told me where he last saw it. He had apparently been hunting it for several hours. I assured him I would keep an eye out and let him know if I came across it, which is precisely what I did all throughout the remainder of my walk.
The good news is that, while I never saw the calf, it was found. I talked to the farmer by phone later that evening; and he reported that the calf was safe and sound and back in the pasture with its mother and herd.
I can also report further good news in that I never encountered the dog again; so he did not accost me. Nor was he run over by traffic. He simply disappeared; leading me to hope he made his way back to his own home.
But upon further reflection, what has struck me is my own perspective changed once I met the farmer. Up until then, that which had occupied most of my thinking while out walking was my encounter with the dog. Viewed as a threat to me and my safety, it had thus consumed me. Justified or not, my thoughts at the time were more for and about me than any other situation.
But that all changed once I encountered the farmer. His concerns, by contrast, were not about himself, but about another. He was concerned not for his own safety, but for that of a poor lost calf. At his behest, I too became concerned for the calf. I found myself thinking about it and its safety more than my own. And therein rests the point of my post this evening.
Jesus once told a story about a shepherd who lost a single sheep. In the New Testament Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 4-7, we read:
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’
In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.”
From the time just on single member of his flock went astray, the shepherd in Jesus’ story, just like the farmer I encountered, had one agenda, and one agenda alone: to seek and to save that which was lost! By comparison, nothing else mattered. Certainly not his own safety! In fact, if need be, he would even be willing to place himself between any member of his flock and whoever or whatever threatened it!
As a follower of Christ, I have been called to participate in that redemptive pursuit, and to do so with equal attention and fervor. Of course, for this to be the case, I have to get my mind off of myself and my concerns and begin to think more about Christ and His concerns. Otherwise, how can I possibly have any effectiveness either on His behalf or for His agenda?
In his New Testament Letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verse 5, the Apostle Paul told us: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” For this reason, I have now changed my mind! Accordingly, I will not soon forget the events of that eventful day this past week. Nor should I!