“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul… You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Dueteronomy 11:18, 19, & 20 NKJV
Have you ever heard of a bell sheep? I must confess that I never had until a couple of years ago, when I began reading a book by Elizabeth George titled, Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart.
Here’s what I learned was the definition of a bell sheep: “When a shepherd noticed a sheep that willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…that, in turn, was following the shepherd.”
In the book, Elizabeth makes a profound and frightening proclamation: “A mom should be the bell sheep for her [children]!” I say frightening because that’s a wonderful yet heavy responsibility!
What I find interesting is that the best bell sheep are usually ones that have wandered many times from the shepherd’s side. When a lamb continually strays from the flock, risking its own life and safety as well as that of the other sheep, it may be necessary for the shepherd to break the leg of the wayward one. The shepherd then gently carries the lamb in his arms, and tenderly cares for it until the leg mends.
During this time of healing, the lamb is cradled against the shepherd’s chest and comes to know the sound of his heartbeat. The lamb begins to understand the shepherd’s heart of love and care, and soon falls in love with the shepherd, indeed loving him with all of its heart and all of its might.
When the lamb is set back down to walk on its own, it stays at the shepherd’s side, never to stray again – not out of fear, but love. The shepherd and that sheep, therefore, develop a relationship of devotion and trust. The shepherd then places a bell around the neck of his beloved sheep, giving it the responsibility to lead others to his side. The tinkling bell keeps other sheep from getting lost and draws the rest of the flock to the shepherd.
Last month I wrote a post titled Raw Honest (find it here). When I look back at what I’ve done and who I’ve been in the past, I can become like Peter, who looked away from the face of Jesus into the daunting, beating waves of the sea. I can begin to doubt my ability to be a bell sheep for my daughter. I can begin to fear that I’m too broken to lead her to Christ. Then the Spirit reminds me that my brokenness was the very thing that endeared me to my Shepherd. In my brokenness, He cradled me against His chest, and I came to know His heartbeat. Now my daughter knows my heartbeat – and it is Him. I walk beside Him and guide her to His side.
Dear Mother, you are called to be your Shepherd’s bell sheep to your children. But be of good courage! No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our great Shepherd, will equip you with every good work (Hebrews 13:20&21). In fact, He already has!
Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” This word “spiritual” is not meant to be understood simply as differentiated from material, but rather that these blessings are imparted by the Holy Spirit and applied to us as blessings purchased by Christ. We are taught by the Spirit of God how to teach our children to be taught by the Spirit of God!
We must first, however, be teachable ourselves. We must snuggle close into the bosom of our Lord and listen to His heartbeat. I encourage you to read Deuteronomy chapter 11 in its entirety. Hear His words to you today.
In part He says: “Love the Lord your God and keep His commands… always. Remember that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: His majesty, His outstretched arm… It was not your children who saw what He did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place… So…faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today –love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul… Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (NIV).”
Bell sheep. This is how to be a bell sheep.
Though I have been broken, the Lord my God disciplined me and reached me in my wilderness, and it’s my spiritual blessing to tell of what He’s done for me. I have overcome because of the blood of the Lamb, and the word of my testimony is how I become a bell sheep (Rev 12:11).
Charles Spurgeon once said, “O, dear mothers, you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God… You are called to equip the future [wo]man of God, that [s]he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. Those who think that a woman detained…by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true.”
Ladies, whether you’re a mama of infants, toddlers, teenagers, adults, or of spiritual children only, you are a bell sheep. God has called you to influence your little corner of the world for Him. You have His sweet-sounding bell around your neck, and you are leading others to His side – the side that was pierced for our transgressions (Is 53:5). You are equipped with every spiritual blessing, and He is standing at your side to strengthen you, so that through you the proclamation might be fully accomplished and all might hear the Gospel (2 Tim 4:17).
I will be spending this Mother’s Day reveling in the gift of motherhood – the gift of being my Shepherd’s bell sheep for my daughter. I will also be honoring my mama, who is my bell sheep, and you, dear sister. May this Mother’s Day find you resting in the truth of this: “When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:4
In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene