I wish I could remember the very first sheep that started my collection. But when I got the first sheep, it wasn't a collection yet; it was only one. Little did I know that some thirty years later I would have too many to count. John counted them five or six years ago and they numbered well over 300. Since that time I have discontinued actively acquiring more but I continue to receive a few gifts of sheep.
I fell in love with sheep long ago when my daddy began raising them. For me sheep are symbolic. I've read and reread the scriptures on sheep and shepherds and for many years I made my own Christmas cards featuring them. In time, we began raising our own sheep and showing sheep so the collection quickly morphed into a house full of sheep while John built sheds and filled them with the living variety.
"He brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert" (Psalm 78:52 NIV).
I have sheep statues made of wood, plaster, china, yarn, cotton balls, plastic and twine. Some are carved, molded, folded or puzzles. I have sheep that light up, that whistle, that store money and there are sheep picture frames, plates, pictures, and planters. Our Japanese exchange student still sends a box full of sheep every Christmas. There are sheep candles and soap, crystal and paper, cookie cutters and kitchen towels. Plus, I have a full box of sheep ornaments that decorate our Christmas tree.
Each one of my sheep reminds me that the Lord is my shepherd. I don't need to fear what is ahead, for He will lead me, provide for me, and protect me. I no longer need the many visual reminders that surround me in my home, yet my heart is warmed by the knowledge that I am a lamb in His care.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).