THE BELOVED BLACK SHEEP – The lost sheep series 4

Sheep - Beloved black sheep

One morning I wanted to spend time worshipping God but He kept bringing something to my mind. I thought it was a distraction and after trying to ignore it, I decided not to dismiss it and sat down and engaged “ The Father”. Essentially, my journey with God has been sort of unique or maybe not so unique afterall. This article will explain better. In my journey of obedience, a few people some very close friends, some family have not understood my journey while some have been offended. I know for a fact that I have obeyed God but to others who may not understand my actions it may seem like I am being rebellious. Someone once said to me “Omi, is a rebel”.

Back to what God wanted me to deal with during my quiet time. I pondered on all the strained relationships since my journey of radical obedience to Gods instructions. From the physical point of view it seems like I’m the odd one out. Everyone else’s life is pretty much the same, but mine seemed different. In my thoughts I said to God that it seems or feels like “I’m the black sheep.” ……. As I said this I remembered that recently when I started a series called The Lost Sheep on instagram, I was searching for pictures to include in my instragram post of a shepherd and his sheep and I noticed an image of “Jesus” with a black sheep which I posted. I made a mental note, to research on black sheep but I hadn’t gotten round to it. Therefore, that morning while having quite time with God and pouring out my heart to him, I knew that He wanted me to research the black sheep.

When I first googled the phrase black sheep, what I found on Wikipedia is as follows.

“In the English languageblack sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family. The term stems from the genetic effect in sheep whereby a recessive gene occasionally manifests in the birth of a sheep with black rather than white coloring; these sheep stand out in the flock and their wool was traditionally considered less valuable.”

The question you may then be asking is “What is an idiom?”

An idiom is a phrase but it is different from other phrases in that you can’t understand its meaning from the words it is made from. For instance, ‘a load of cobblers‘ has nothing to do with shoemakers and when people tell you to ‘break a leg‘ they don’t really mean it.[1]

Another definition said an idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally, like “bought the farm” has nothing to do with purchasing real estate, but refers to dying.[2]

Essentially when people say “He is a black sheep” or when I said to God ‘it seems like I’m the black sheep”, what that refers to is as though the person referred to as the black sheep is bad, different, odd , of disreputable character or even evil. In essence a being referred as a black sheep is not something to be desired.

Black sheep standing amongst flock of white sheep (Digital Composite)

Picture Credit: http://fortune.com/2017/05/17/leadership-career-advice-working-remotely-remote-workers-home-telecommuting/

Fortunately, based on what I read during my research this assertion using a black sheep as a symbol that someone is bad is actually just a figurative speech and not a true statement.

Now I know for a fact that God doesn’t make mistakes, surely He created the black sheep and everything He does is perfect.  Therefore I wanted to know why people refer to a black sheep as bad and why it also has this idiomatic usage.

I didn’t find much information but what I found said

“The term originated from the occasional black sheep which are born into a flock of white sheep due to a genetic process of recessive traits. Black wool was considered commercially undesirable because it could not be dyed. In 18th and 19th century England, the black color of the sheep was seen as the mark of the devil.” [3]

Esssentially, what this means is that farmers typically prefer white sheep or sheep with white wool because of the fact that the wool can be dyed which makes it commercially viable. Occasionally due to genetic process, a black sheep is born to a flock of white sheep and because according to the farmers black wool is considered commercially undesirable because it cannot be dyed, a black sheep is not favoured. Further research showed that black sheep would often be killed.

I wasn’t satisfied with this and I wanted to research more to understand why God would create a black sheep. I tried searching from a genetically point of view. I also searched black sheep online but all I saw was links on movies or books that focused on the idiomatic usage. Therefore, I decided to research sheep instead.

Interestingly when God spoke to me about obedience a while ago I had researched on sheep because He said to me that the analogy of obedience is sheep. Sheep have excellent vision, they are very intelligent and they also can hear and recognise the shepherds voice. This time I decided to go further and check their various breeds including their colour.

I found that according to Wikipedia sheep are classified as being best suited to furnishing a certain product: wool, meat, milk, hides, or a combination in a dual-purpose breed. [4]. In essence they are classified according to their commercial use i.e. whether they are used for wool, milk, hides etc.

It can therefore be deduced that sheep is a multipurpose animal.

Therefore, just because a black sheep wool wasn’t considered commercially viable doesn’t mean it is useless animal.

I found out that there are more than 1000 breeds of sheep in existence. Furthermore, contrary to what many people think, sheep are not just white and they vary in colour. Some are spotted, black, red, brown, orange etc. The reason we see more white is because ‘selection for easily dyeable white fleeces began early in sheep domestication, and as white wool is a dominant trait it spread quickly.[5]

Essentially, God made sheep in various colours. Man decided to classify sheep for commercial reasons and focused on selecting and breeding white wool because of the ability to dye it. This is why we see more white sheep but God has the upper hand because due to a recessive gene even a white flock would produce a black sheep.

Black sheep are not evil or bad. They are as precious as white wooled sheep.

Even if their wool is deemed to be commercially unviable because it cannot be dyed, they can still be used for other things like hide, meat, milk etc.

Let us analyse this further, why does man feel the need to dye the wool of sheep and use it artificially? In actual fact the wool of black sheep or any other coloured sheep can be used just the way it is. It is actually cheaper because then you don’t have to spend money dyeing it and now that the world is more health conscious, and organic is more valuable and scarce, the wool of black sheep should be considered more valuable than the wool of white sheep that is artificially coloured. Clearly the classification of sheep especially black sheep as bad, is money driven and has nothing to do with its true identity.

This realisation was so liberating for me and I felt the need to connect it to the spiritual especially since I started the Lost sheep series. I decided to search online to find something , a story or a sermon that connected with the same revelation of the black sheep. Everything I saw still referred to the idiomatic usage. Then just like that I found the most amazing true story titled “The Good Shepherd and the Black Sheep” by Dr. Baron Mullis that confirmed everything that God had revealed to me.

Excerpts of the story is below [6]

My friend Sherri Hausser and I were traveling to Iona together one time. Iona is a tiny island at the southernmost tip of the inner Hebrides. Several of us have been there, and the one thing I think we all agree on is that there it takes forever to get there… from

Edinburgh, one takes a train to Oban, wherein one boards a ferry to the island Mull, and then rides a bus down a single-track road to the ferry dock in Fionnphort to take one additional ferry to cross over to the island.
What is a single track road, you may be asking?

It is a one lane road that is barely wide enough for one car to drive down with periodic bump-outs to allow cars to pull over so they can pass one another.
On Mull, the passenger cars share this with lorries carrying the timber back to the north part of the island. One drives at one’s peril. It is a harrowing experience, and it primes you so that when you get to Iona, you are ready for a spiritual experience.

So I was driving my friend Elinor’s little Mazda station-wagon down this winding road when Sherri spotted a sign for an organic farm coming up on the left.
Sherri loves all things organic, local and natural, and I have come to be as well, but at that stage of my life, I was still perfectly comfortable with Bovine Growth Hormone and I thought yellow dye #5 was perfectly delicious.

“No,” I said.
“Yes,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. (I don’t enjoy conflict and we were headed that way.)
So, off the main road we went, in search of an organic farm – why, to this day, I still don’t know.
But when we worked our way several miles through roads that were little more than ruts, we found our way to a farmyard outside of several stone barns that formed a courtyard. One had a sign that said, “Ardalanish Farm Store.”

So we got out of the car and went in, I was sort of expecting to find some goat cheese or something, or an Irn-bru to fortify myself, and when we went in the door, what we saw were shelves of the most stunning blankets and sweaters and scarves in rich shades of brown and dark gray and sort of burnt-orange red.

The sales clerk looked up as we came in and said, “Welcome.”
We looked around and read the placards that said, “All of our wool is dye-free and organic.”
I was intrigued. There were these rich colors, but it was dye-free.
So I asked the clerk. Instead of answering, she said, “Come with me.”
We walked outside and up a short path to the farmhouse and beyond it was a pasture. “Do you notice anything special,” she asked?
“Yes,” I replied, “These sheep are all different colors.”
And they were. They were black and brown and sort of reddish, just like the blankets and sweaters in the store.
“Come on back down and I’ll show you the looms,” she said.
The original owner of the loom had been a weaver in Glasgow who decided to retire and discovered that there was no market for his loom in the United Kingdom as most of the textile industry had left the country. So, despairing of selling his loom and equipment, he decided to give them up for scrap. This farmer read the ad and called him and said, “I can’t afford to buy your loom, but if you’re really giving it away for scrap, could I have the whole thing? I have an interest in learning to weave.”

It turned out that the farmer, who himself marched to the beat of his own drummer, had a soft spot in his heart for the black sheep and knowing the fate of the black lambs, put out the word that if a black lamb was born, he would buy it.
The wool of black sheep doesn’t take dye.

The wool of black sheep doesn’t need dye. It is beautiful exactly as it is.
The master weaver takes the wool of the black sheep and uses it to create something that couldn’t be made in any other way.
That is the good shepherd.[7]

(Read the full story here http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/2687/TheGoodShepherdandtheBlackSheepDr.pdf)

 

The farmer in the story above is like Jesus. He loves all His sheep even the black sheep.  The Bible in John Chapter 10 verse 16says “You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.”(The Message Version).

I believe Jesus is referring to the proverbial “black sheep”. Those who have been discriminated on. Those who feel like the odd one out. They have been classified as disreputable, odd, bad or even evil because of their uniqueness. They are the black sheep because they don’t conform to what man calls the ‘norm’. They are the black sheep because they choose to be different and true to themselves. They may be considered black sheep because they are not perfect or they have their own unique struggles. The thing is Jesus loves everybody. He loves us all and like in John Chapter 10:16, He wants to gather the sheep that have been cast away. He wants them to recognise His voice too and He wants them to be part of His flock. One flock and not different flock.

 

Whatever your struggles are, regardless of why you are considered a ‘black sheep”, just know that Jesus loves you with a reckless love and like the Bible says in Luke Chapter 15, He will leave the 99 and go looking for the one which is you.

 

If you are considered a black sheep because of a unique struggle such as struggle with sin, sexuality even paedophilia etc don’t worry. He will help you overcome your struggles or sins just like a shepherd will heal a wounded sheep that He brings back to the pen. The Bible in Isaiah 1:18 says Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

 

 

As I conclude this article, I realise that it is perfectly okay to be considered the black sheep. I don’t have to fit into the mold. I am not odd, I am different. I am beautiful. I am precious and infact I am more valuable because of my authenticity and uniqueness. I hope you feel the same way to.

 

 

 

 

Worship song recommendation

 

Reckless love by Cory Asbury

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xx0d3R2LoU

[1]https://www.phrases.org.uk/idioms/index.html

[2]http://examples.yourdictionary.com/idiom.html

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_sheep

[4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep#Breeds

[5]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheep#Breeds

[6]http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/2687/TheGoodShepherdandtheBlackSheepDr.pdf

[7]http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/2687/TheGoodShepherdandtheBlackSheepDr.pdf

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