As of today, I've logged a quarter-century's worth of life. I am now 26 years old.
A very small portion of those 25 years were spent studying to obtain a Bachelors degree in Biblical Theology. En route to this academic achievement I acquired some information about typical shepherd behavior circa the time of King David:
Let's say you're an ancient shepherd herding your flock over some craggy terrain frequented by vicious carnivores bent on stealing from your stock. Let's also say that you've got this one stupid sheep that keeps wandering away from the fold--getting its head stuck in crags, never answering your call, and presenting itself as a tasty lunch to ravenous bears and lions--not understanding the danger that it's putting itself in. What's a shepherd going to do?
Well, apparently, these shepherds would go over to this wayward sheep and club its legs 'til they broke.
The sheep would be visibly upset and mutter sheep-flavored profanity under its wool, and remain crippled from the beating it received. The shepherd would then put healing splints on the sheep's legs and throw it over his shoulders. On they'd walk...
For days this rebellious sheep would be carried by its shepherd, learning up-close and personal the shepherd's voice. Meanwhile, the sheep's legs would begin to heal until, after many days, it would be able to walk on its own again.
Now what happened from here on out was that this sheep now knew the shepherd's voice and had learned to depend on him for protection. The sheep saw the shepherd use a rod and staff to kill predators that threatened the flock's well-being. Strangely enough it was the same rod and staff that was used to break this sheep's own legs. The sheep saw that its shepherd was both caring and dangerous, depending on what the situation required.
King David wrote in Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
My quarter-century's worth of life has involved a fair share of, figuratively, broken legs. I'm like that stupid sheep that gets lost and wanders off and ignores the call of God. However, God my Shepherd finds me, smacks some sense into me--which involves a lot of pain and profanity being muttered--and throws me over His shoulders. I recuperate, learn to recognize His voice and get released back to walk with Him in the safety of His presence.
I am grateful for His mercy in bringing me thus far and for His graciousness to carry me most of the way.