Papa is telling the creation story of Sheep, Herders, Wolves.
God has given sheep options and was now watching his experiment unfold…
Life for a small flock of sheep was challenging; herds were threatened by the elements and predators; but herders always emerged.
Curious developments arose as flocks matured and prospered. As the size of a flock grew, a few sheep always chose to be wolves. They didn't like putting forth effort for the benefit of others, or they didn't like the conformity of the flock. They wanted power and status without the responsibility inherent in leadership.
These sheep preferred to take, not give. They wanted freedom and power without responsibility.
Wolves sought out, attacked, and killed the weakest and most vulnerable. Herders tirelessly defended the sheep. Good herders eliminated threats and made the wolves' lives difficult; much harder, in fact, than sheep had imagined before they became wolves. Good herders working together were always a step or two ahead of wolves.
But as you might imagine, times changed.
When flocks were small, and threats were menacing, fear motivated the sheep. Being able to overcome fear, sheep banded together, and leaders emerged. The sheep followed those leaders.
As herds prospered, life became less dangerous and taxing, and eventually easy. Fear diminished, and the sheep grew increasingly complacent and bored. An easy, comfortable life bred jealousy, envy, and mischief.
When times were too good, too stress-free, and too comfortable, some sheep looked to achieve status an easy way. They chose to become wolves.
"Why work for others when you could break out on your own?"
Built into the sheep's nature was a means to undermine community, destabilize stability, and impoverish prosperity. It all came down to individual choices.
Free will allow the sheep to choose a stable way - stay as sheep; a challenging way - become a herder and lead; or an easy way - become a wolf.
Freedom without responsibility is seemingly an attractive choice: power and status without effort or obligation. It's all an illusion, a deception, a delusion.
There is no such thing as freedom without responsibility.
God gave His beings an opportunity for greatness and an opportunity for calamity.
Free will, free choice.
The drama unfolded.
God watched sheep move through cycles. Challenges produced selfless, principled leaders – the few serving the many. When threatened, sheep rallied, and leaders emerged.
Good times never lasted, however. As life got easier for the sheep and fear subsided, the sheep focused less on community and more on themselves. Lured by the promise of status and power and independence, more sheep would choose to become wolves.
The cycle progressed.
As wolves grew in number, they became more brazen and bold. Planting seeds of distrust and division amongst the sheep; wolves undermined herders.
Ingeniously disguised as sheep or even herders, wolves promised ever greater ease and comfort, status and power if only the sheep would do as the wolves directed.
Many of the sheep fell victim to false promises.
It wasn't that the sheep were stupid; it was that they always sought the path of least resistance; the easy alternative.
Even sheep united in a flock often fell for the lie that: They could get something for nothing.
When pastures were bountiful, the weather comfortable, and threats subsided, the community invariably broke down. "Pulling together" increasingly turned into "every sheep for himself." It was then when more and more sheep chose to become wolves.
As the struggle for the soul of the flock grew, more sheep were killed, and more joined the ranks of the wolves.
Eventually, even herders grew weary; and some herders even transformed into wolves.
As the wolves' power grew, the cycle progressed to chaos.
Might alone rule. Might make right.
Wolves isolated and divided the sheep. "Every sheep for himself" was ideal for setting up the slaughter.
The many came to serve the few.
As wolves ascended, fewer herders were likely to arise. Without the support of the flock, herders were no match for swarming packs of wolves.
God watched as flock after flock went through this cycle. But He knew what came next.
Wolves by their nature – being self-seeking and self-absorbed – always nurtured their own undoing. One of two things repeatedly happened.
In healthy flocks, as wolves multiplied, sheep would unite, new leaders would emerge, and together the herd would fend off and ultimately defeat the wolves.
These flocks prospered.
The challenge arose, however, when times were good. Prosperity led to complacency. Complacency bred envy. And envy gave birth to new wolves. As wolves multiplied, they eventually got the upper hand and dominated, plundered, and decimated the sheep.
The Many Served the Few.
When sheep grew scarce, the wolves turned on each other. The selfish, self-seeking wolves always proved to be their own worst enemies.
The cycled played out over and over again.
God allowed sheep to choose. The power always rested with the sheep.
They could choose to explore and experience, learn and grow, create and contribute, uniting in love. Or they could aspire to power and status, culminating in violence and destruction.
Freedom, opportunity, and risk: God saw what He had created was good.
And here we are.
This is the cycle we are entrusted to break.
Papa was drawing to the end of his tale.
My father told me wolves had arisen there in Europe while sheep stood by. But finally, in those dark, dismal days, the sheep had finally chosen to unite and fend off the wolves.
My father assured me that soon, times would be different. Life would get better, for us and for everyone.
He warned me to watch out, though. This cycle is a part of human nature. It plays out again and again. When it seems as though it is ‘every man for himself,' beware the wolves.
Then it's time to choose:
Will you choose to stand together or fall apart?
We'll continue our saga in lesson six.