The momma sheep got their bi-annual shearing last weekend. They were docile in the shearer’s hands and pleased to shuck 7-9 lbs. each of shaggy wool that was dishwater brown, weighing them down, and not-so-very Valais anymore. You could almost hear them sigh with relief. Their lambs, however, were clearly bewildered. They baaa’d and searched the defrocked mothers, no longer sure who was who. It was like watching a game of musical chairs as they’d get the boot from one mom and scramble to latch onto the next open udder. Even the mommas looked a bit confused as to why their babies had suddenly turned into village idiots. After a little while they sorted things out and learned to recognize their made-over-moms.
Likewise, the horses are shedding major tufts of hair that the sparrows are more than happy to gather to line their nests (along with stray chicken feathers from a recent fox raid, but that’s a story for another time). Not to be left out, Sunny, the Golden Retriever, is doing his fair share. We are inundated with floaty bits of wool, horse hair, golden locks, and sad feathers. It’s shedding season alright and I’m it’s shabby queen, shuffling with a hunch as I brush fibers from my clothing and spit horse hair from my mouth.
You’d think if I was queen then I ought to be good at shedding stuff myself. But not so much. It’s funny the things we humans tend to cling to: possessions that possess us or have outlived their usefulness; character traits that no longer serve us; vices or outright sinfulness that binds us. The thing is, it’s not enough to simply “divest” — we must also “put on.” Otherwise, we’re no better off than the poor soul in Matthew 12 whose evil spirit is cast out but returns to his empty and orderly "room" with seven other spirits worse than itself. When we don’t fill the void of what is cast off with virtue, we’re left exposed, vulnerable, and inevitably worse off!
Fortunately, Colossians 3 is a veritable walk-in closet of good and godly vestments to replace that which is in need of shedding:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God ... Put to death whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry) ... you must get rid of ("shed") all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
We naturally tend to think of shedding anything at all as a sacrifice, something worthy of a hearty pat on the back or self-congratulations. Yes, it’s good to start small if we must, every little victory counts. But alas, it’s no real sacrifice if we “shed” without love. When we shed for the love of Christ, who shed his blood on the cross for love of you and me, the act becomes transformative. Like sheared sheep, we are lighter, brighter, and ready for Spring. But unlike sheared sheep, we will never be the same.
So, what will you lose to gain perpetual springtime in your soul? Pride? Worry? Pettiness? Possessions? Anger? Fear? A Grudge? A "Guilty Pleasure"? Something else?
The Word of God, a blessed invitation, drifts on a spirited April breeze — can you hear it?
“Come, shed with Me.”