As I followed a country trail that winds its way across the vast expanse of Southern Ontario, I came to a river crossing and sat in the shade for a time to rest and to catch my bearings. A man soon happened by and, after we exchanged polite greetings, he told a curious tale.
He explained that he owns a nearby farm and that one of his sheep and one of his pigs had recently escaped. Together they had found a weak rail in the fence and had pressed upon it until it broken under their weight. Seeing their opportunity, they quickly bolted from the field and began to explore their new and unfamiliar surroundings.
It did not take long for the farmer to notice that two of his animals were missing and to set out to find them. He came across the broken-down section of fence and launched his search efforts from that area. But the animals had wandered far and had not left much of a trail behind them. Day soon turned to night and after resting fitfully, he resumed his search in the morning. The animals had now been gone for more than 24 hours and he began to wonder what could possibly have happened to them.
It was in the afternoon of the second day that he began to hear a distant bleating, the sound of his sheep crying out. He listened carefully, then began to follow the sound as it led toward a nearby bog. And it was there that he found his missing sheep and his missing pig. Both had fallen into a deep ditch, both had become coated in muck, both were unable to scramble out. But where the pig had been content to wallow in the mud, the sheep had known to bleat pathetically until the farmer had come to rescue it, to lift it out, and to cleanse it.
Then, said the farmer, “If you are ever deceived into a sin and overtaken by a weakness, don’t lose heart. Go at once to your compassionate Savior. Tell Him in the simplest words the story of your fall and the sorrow you feel. Ask Him to wash you at once and to restore your soul, and, while you are asking, believe that it is done. For if a sheep and a sow fall into a ditch, the sow wallows in it, but the sheep bleats pathetically until she is cleansed by her master. Be the sheep, my friend, and not the pig.”
Inspired by Light on Life’s Duties by F.B. Meyer.