We had the missionaries over last night and they shared an amazing story from the May 1988 Ensign. Below is a story given by Elder John R Lasater:
Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit the country of Morocco as part of an official United States government delegation. As part of that visit, we were invited to travel some distance into the desert to visit some ruins. Five large black limousines moved across the beautiful Moroccan countryside at considerable speed. I was riding in the third limousine, which had lagged some distance behind the second. As we topped the brow of a hill, we noticed that the limousine in front of us had pulled off to the side of the road. As we drew nearer, I sensed that an accident had occurred and suggested to my driver that we stop. The scene before us has remained with me for these many years.
An old shepherd, in the long, flowing robes of the Savior’s day, was standing near the limousine in conversation with the driver. Nearby, I noted a small flock of sheep numbering not more than fifteen or twenty. An accident had occurred. The king’s vehicle had struck and injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd. The driver of the vehicle was explaining to him the law of the land. Because the king’s vehicle had injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd, he was now entitled to one hundred times its value at maturity. However, under the same law, the injured sheep must be slain and the meat divided among the people. My interpreter hastily added, “But the old shepherd will not accept the money. They never do.”
Startled, I asked him why. And he added, “Because of the love he has for each of his sheep.” It was then that I noticed the old shepherd reach down, lift the injured lamb in his arms, and place it in a large pouch on the front of his robe. He kept stroking its head, repeating the same word over and over again. When I asked the meaning of the word, I was informed, “Oh, he is calling it by name. All of his sheep have a name, for he is their shepherd, and the good shepherds know each one of their sheep by name.”
It was as my driver predicted. The money was refused, and the old shepherd with his small flock of sheep, with the injured one tucked safely in the pouch on his robe, disappeared into the beautiful deserts of Morocco.
As we continued our journey toward the ruins, my interpreter shared with me more of the traditions and practices of the shepherds of that land. Each evening at sundown, for example, the shepherds bring their small flocks of sheep to a common enclosure where they are secured against the wolves that roam the deserts of Morocco. A single shepherd then is employed to guard the gate until morning. Then the shepherds come to the enclosure one by one, enter therein, and call forth their sheep—by name. The sheep will not hearken unto the voice of a stranger but will leave the enclosure only in the care of their true shepherd, confident and secure because the shepherd knows their names and they know his voice.
“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:2–5).
Many thoughts come to mind. First, I think of all the times I’ve been lost and wandering on my own way…even injured spiritualy and how the Lord has reached down and picked me up either through another person or through a miracle of a healing or other means.
Next, I think of those who I’m called to be a Shepherd over. My family, the people I home teach, those I serve as a ward missionary, the children of God I meet on a daily basis, etc. Do I treat them and love them as a shepherd? If not, what can I do to improve with my interactions with those I’ve been given stewardship over?
Finally, I thought of all the references in the scriptures on being Shepherds . There are many refering to “shepherds in Isreal”, following the “Good Shepherd”, and probably the most touching is the one in John 10: 2, 11-12, 14, and 16 that talks about the good shepherd giving his life for the sheep and how he knows every one of his sheep.
I’m grateful for Jesus and that He is always there for me even when I stray it seems like on a daily basis. However, He is the Good Shepherd and will always search, call, and reach out to comfort me. All I need to do is hear his voice and obey.
I hope this helps us all strive to become more loving and more like our Savior who is the true Shepherd of us all.