We recently decided that creating a dry lot for the lambs would reduce the time we spend mucking their sheep pen. That meant removing tractor-bucket-loads of sand from what was, until recently, our horse riding arena. Shepherd Ed pushed the sand into a pile that’s about 5 feet high but to our lambs, it’s a virtual mountaintop! They haven’t stopped frolicking on “Valais Mountain” since it was created. They climb. They perch. They jump off. They butt heads to see who will be Queen of the Hill. It looks like simple play but what’s really happening is a fascinating display of their DNA.
A little background: “The Valais Blacknose Sheep originate in the Valais region of Switzerland. They are a dual-purpose breed, raised for meat and wool. They are unique to the Upper Valais and are well adapted to the harsh mountain conditions, being extremely hardy, prolific and frugal. The black on its nose, eyes, ears, knees, hocks and feet and otherwise light woolly coats make them quite unmistakeable. They have large helical or spiral shaped horns. They are good at grazing steep, rocky slopes…The earliest mention of the breed dates back to 1400 A.D., but they were first recognized as a separate breed in 1962. Today, the Swiss herdbooks include almost 13,700 animals.”(From the Valais Blacknose Sheep Society USA website)
Although far from the Upper Valais, and never intended to dwell in loafing sheds with cozy straw bedding or on soft, flat pastures, they’ve adapted to the conditions of domestic farm life. Nevertheless, given half a chance, who they are and the life they were meant to live shines through.
Like all living creatures, humans have DNA, a significant percentage of which is shared with a host of other species. But unlike other creatures, we also have what could be called a proprietary, spiritual DNA. It’s not made up of helixes and other complex genetic information. Rather, it’s comprised of a single strand of one pure thing: Light. This only makes sense, since our Creator and Father who is God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
It’s no wonder then that the Bible refers to “light” 272 times in 235 verses. Those references to light that don’t specifically extol the very nature of God express the very nature of you and me! The Word of the Lord reinforces over and over again that we “are all children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.” (1: Thessalonians 5:5) And just as our little ewe lambs “shine” on their mountaintop with all the glory of their innate identity, so too are we called to “shine” with the fullness of ours. Jesus says:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)
I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times when out of insecurity, laziness, distraction, or convenience, I’ve dimmed my light and refused to shine, cozying up in my loafing shed when there’s a hill out there with my name on it. It’s a hill worth living and shining on. It’s also a hill worth dying on…
“Again, Jesus spoke to them saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) It blows my finite mind when I read this verse. Jesus says, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. And then in Matthew 5 (above) what does he say to us? YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
Our spiritual DNA is 100% identical to GOD’s. The fullness of his divine life resides in us through the Holy Spirit. When we live as a city set on a hill, we are beacons that both embody and point to the light and glory of God.
So let’s get out there today and “walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8) Our Father in Heaven, through Christ the King, has commanded us by the power of the Holy Spirit to let our light shine before others. As the lambs have shown us, it’s really not that hard.
Just be who you are.