Welcome; Jeff and Papa's cribbage match continues as Papa begins sharing the creation story: Sheep, Herders, Wolves…
God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh.
Or so the story goes; but that's not the whole story.
God intended to produce a splendid, dynamic, evolving, and loving creation.
The greatest force in existence is God; and God is love.
Love drives all things to cooperate and collaborate, to sacrifice, give and forgive, to ultimately unite, come together, and achieve perfection – to reunite and become whole.
God imbued life itself with love – a dynamic striving to grow and evolve together in harmony.
God fixed time to move in one direction, but since His creation was not static; to ensure the system did not rush to either consolidate or disintegrate, He made the universe and all its component parts operate in cycles.
The design ebbed and flowed, expanded and contracted, grew and evolved; elements aged, died, decayed, and were ever-renewed and born again.
It was a magnificent creation.
On the sixth day, God created all kinds of living creatures – cattle, creeping things, and wild animals.
There is more to that sixth day than the passages of Genesis convey.
Upon all creatures, God bestowed the impetus of will – the motivation to act; and the guidance of instinct – to deal with the environment.
God also bestowed on all creatures two powerful governors; to help creatures survive: the first and most powerful being fear, and the second an affinity to conserve energy. Fear and the tendency to conserve energy ensure creatures survive.
But God intended for life to do more than just survive. He intended for life to grow and flourish.
Mankind would be His vehicle for extraordinary evolution.
Before creating humans, however, God had work to do.
God realized, if He endowed creatures with a dominant trait, those creatures generally relied on that trait to survive.
Animals with great size or strength or speed, leveraged that attribute but rarely capitalized on other qualities. Creatures used what they had to dominate and thrive.
Might makes right.
Creatures with intelligence and cunning, however, stood out even when competing against larger, stronger, and faster adversaries.
God imagined that by not giving a creature commanding physical attributes, that creature would, of necessity, be forced to cooperate and collaborate. Collaborating would leverage attributes inherent in the community – and reveal the unifying power of love.
God sought to determine just what attributes would serve His ultimate vision.
So God experimented.
Sheep were wonderful animals; docile and friendly, social and loving, hardy and resilient. They cared for their young; for each other, and not having dominant physical traits in a competitive world, worked together to survive.
God used sheep to test His theory.
Sheep were social creatures that responded to social cues. Individual sheep did whatever the sheep around them did. They followed the herd, for better or for worse.
In a world of bigger, faster, stronger, more dangerous, and more aggressive creatures, sheep needed a competitive edge. Uniting and working together was that competitive edge.
To pull the sheep together and get them to work in harmony, God realized the sheep needed leadership – strong and noble leaders: guides, guardians, shepherds – herders.
Leaders are first and foremost servants.
Good leaders; noble, principled, selfless leaders; are the few serving the many.
Selfless herders leading even humble sheep unite a powerful force.
To begin His experiment, God endowed sheep with a transformative ability.
Each sheep could continue his or her life as a sheep – which is by far what most sheep chose. They had only to follow the flock and blend in with the herd.
In a highly competitive world, some sheep would be lost, but most, if they conformed and contributed their fair share responding to good leadership, would thrive.
Sheep could choose another option, however.
A sheep could transform into a leader and assume the mantle of leadership; a sheep could become a herder.
Herders received the gifts of size and strength, speed, and vision.
It was a herder's job to lead the sheep to fertile pastures; to ensure the sheep did not overwhelm the environment; to prepare the sheep for difficult times, and lead them through challenging circumstances. It was a herder's job to protect the flock from predators, the environment, or even disharmony amongst members of the herd.
Much was asked and demanded of herders.
To be a herder required discipline and sacrifice and effort – hard work.
Herders were guided by overarching principles of service and sacrifice; selfless values to ensure the flock flourished.
While the herd collectively always maintained the power, individual sheep chose what they independently wanted to be. Most chose the relative ease and comfort of being sheep. With honest enough, brave, caring, and insightful herders, however, all the sheep thrived and prospered.
God envisioned the pinnacle of creation to have free will – the ability to choose any path. So God gave the sheep another option.
Sheep could choose to transform into wolves.
Wolves were large and strong, fast and cunning, and possessed dangerous weapons: piercing claws, powerful jaws, and razor-sharp fangs.
Wolves were predators, not protectors. Wolves were killed with impunity. They took what they wanted, when they wanted, looking out solely for themselves. Wolves were the pariahs of the flock.
The power and freedom of being a wolf was tempting, tantalizing, and alluring to many sheep.
The only thing standing in the way of wolves decimating the flock was herders – guardians of the sheep.
With the right leadership; a few good herders serving the many, life for the flock would at least be, if not easy, manageable. Sheep would not expect too much, nor would too much be demanded of them.
With wolves in the mix, however, choosing to become a herder was a risky option, and few answered the call.
Choosing to become a wolf, on the other hand, was liberating on many levels.
Wolves were not guided by selfless principles. They were free to do as they pleased. Wolves lived for themselves.
God set His experiment in motion and watched as flocks of sheep evolved.
We'll see how God's experiment turned out in lesson five.