“Horses are herd animals,” my daughter said recently explaining her purchase of the second horse in six months. I had to admit the two did look happy and natural out there in the pasture. So now Winona and Trigger are rarely seen apart; they are a herd.
In 2016 several upper school boys at Eastwood were dubbed The Nerd Herd. The Nerd Herd spent as much school time together as they could. You could see them sitting in the hallways, hear them talking about video games or soccer, or watch them building a Herd Hut in the woods behind the school. The Hut was quite impressive — stone-paved entrance, couch, roof — all items found in the woods. It was the envy and talk of all the younger boys. The nerds enjoyed each other and one couldn’t help but enjoy them enjoying each other. They were a herd.
My daughter and family moved from Idaho to Montgomery when they heard of my ALS diagnosis. They live 100 yards behind Dawn and me. My oldest son and family recently moved from Michigan. They live 30 yards behind me. He thought this was a good time for law school and to be near us. My youngest son sacrificially changed his college choices to a local school so he could continue to live with us — 40 feet down the hall. My herd has gathered. I have a surprisingly deep joy in the midst of this chaos — laughter, teasing, preparing meals, grandchildren climbing, exploring, eating, throwing food, screaming, giggling — all part of the herd. I feel like I have been handed a gift from God. His kindness knows no bounds. My heart is a herd heart. Humans are herd creatures.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” We were created for fellowship. This should not surprise us; we were made in the image of the triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is fellowship and unity in the Godhead. Mysterious, yes, but present and beautiful. When we experience friendship or family love and unity, it is so good and blissful. And, when relationships are broken and the family is fragmented, it is so bad and painful. We long for a healthy herd.
Lately, my family and I have been the focus of herd affection, yours. The word suffocation comes to mind. I am very sensitive to that word because I am fighting to breathe everyday. Also, I know the word carries a negative image. But I am focusing on a positive, enjoyable use. Picture laughing until you are out of breath, being tickled breathlessly, or the breathlessness of a groom when his radiant bride begins her journey down the aisle. The outpouring of love we have received is astonishing — letters, cards, texts, emails, visits, songs, food, money, hugs, tears, prayers — the herd is suffocating me and, yet, I have never felt more alive. I feel like half of me is experiencing heaven . . . and heaven is very good.
Jesus said to the Church, His herd, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Do you hear the tender and eager invitation in Jesus’ tone? It is for you and for me. Our first fellowship must be with Him; then our other fellowships are in order. The arms of our souls must first go up, and then they can go out. This is how God’s herd works.
How are our relationships doing? With God? With others? Home is best when there is peace, peace with God and peace with others.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Being part of God’s herd is mankind’s intended home. There is peace in His house. Let’s go home.