The Lord is our Shepherd....and we kind of fear His shearers, don't we?
No sheep goes willingly to the barber-shepherd. They don't line up all excited for the relief of taking that winter wool off. Maybe it's the noise of the thing, the sharp, buzzing, identifying noise. Maybe it's the fact that every sheep they've seen go in there comes out naked. I'm not sure.
But I think that second one is kind of it for us. We're terrified that when God takes those shearers and starts shaving away at our lives, we're going to come out of it naked. Or worse. Yes, there is worse than naked: it's called "stupid."
I can say that because I, like probably many of you, had one of those mothers who wasn't afraid to plop her kids up on the bathroom counter and take a set of scissors to their hair. And the only hope - the only prayer - you have coming up out of that is that at the very least, you hope she didn't make you look stupid. Like making an oops and taking out a whole chunk in the back. Or missing with the straight razor and cutting a line up your head (and into your neck). Or...heaven forbid...a bowl cut. You don't want to be the kid at school who has to keep explaining "My mom did it."
Some of us feel that way about the shearers in God's hands. We're sitting there faithfully, giving Him the benefit of the doubt that He knows at least sort of what He's doing, and praying He doesn't make us look stupid. Of course, sometimes, we need to look a little stupid. That's part of gaining wisdom. That's part of realizing what we thought we had and called wisdom was nothing more than fleshly foolishness. Sometimes, He's trying to shave off a large swath and we start wigging around so He loses control and the shearers run haywire. Or we get a weird kind of sheephawk 'do somehow. It's ok; these things happen. Sometimes, God makes us look stupid. And in those moments, we ought to shrug our shoulders, admit it wasn't our first choice, and explain, "My Dad did it." It's part of the process.
Other times, we'll absolutely walk away naked. Stripped of all our defense mechanisms. Stripped of our image. Stripped of our self-importance. Stripping of the other million little things we were afraid of losing going in. We're naked, bare, vulnerable. He's sheared off all we've built up to define ourselves and to defend ourselves.
Were we to see ourselves in the mirror now, we might just look sad. Like a long-haired dog coming out of the bathtub. There's sorta kinda maybe a sheep form under there, but naked, it's hard to tell what that is. It almost kinda looks like us, but less slendoric than a full-fuzzed, immediately-identifiable sheep. Maybe that's what it is - we think we can tell a sheep by its wool, and when it stands there naked, what is it? We have to look a little harder then.
We have to look a little harder at ourselves. What are we without our wool? Without all the things we fairly looked like, what are we? We have to figure out what we are covered in little nicks where our wool didn't shear out; it yanked out, with every bit of resistance it could muster. We have to figure out what we are without a tuft of our beautiful coat left hanging off of us, with our ears sticking out a little funkier and our misshapen heads beading sweat in the heat of the day and every roll of fat hanging off our sides and our beady eyes gaining new prominence apart from our wool. It's a time to reassess. A time to reconsider. A time to re-story ourselves and figure out - in the Shepherd's hands, who is He making us?
And it's a time to look around at the shearing room floor. To see what He's sheared off our lives. To look at what used to be so important to us lying in piles and tufts and reams around the room. And to realize...
It was all fluff. Every bit of it.