Memories of a Shepherd
read about Calvin Putman in a recent issue of Country magazine.1 He grew up on a sheep station during the drought and Depression of the 1930s. Those were bleak years.
Dust storms darkened the sun and blocked out the moon and stars. Dreams were shattered, and hopes died.
On one of those long, cold, wintry nights, Calvin recalled one of the saddest things he ever experienced. He had found a pair of twin lambs crying by the side of their dead mother. He gently picked up one of the lambs and placed it under his arm, and then, with much difficulty, managed to pick up the other frightened, struggling lamb and place it under his other arm. He took them back to the sheepfold where they could be fed and cared for. In the days ahead, every time he heard the orphan lambs cry, it tore at his heart. It was an experience he never forgot.
Thirty years later Calvin and his wife heard about two young girls from a tiny mountain village in Greece who were being put up for adoption because their mother had died. At the time, Demetra was seven years of age and her sister was five.
The girls’ father was a shepherd, too. He was uneducated and illiterate; for as a child, being the youngest in the family, he was needed to help care for his father’s flock and was unable to go to school. To make matters worse, he was left crippled from heart problems and could no longer take care of his daughters.
When Calvin and his wife heard about these two girls, they adopted the oldest one, Demetra, when she was eight years old and could speak no English. The first night she was in her new home she was given two lambs to bottle-feed, and in her native tongue, smiling she said, “Demetra, zagpe provts, baba, meaning “I love the lambs, Daddy.”
He and his wife felt they had no choice
but to search for the lost sister.
Sometime later Demetra said, “Me got sister in Greece some-where, Daddy. Will I ever see her again?”
Calvin recalled his experience with the two lambs he had rescued on that cold, wintry night long before, and in adopting Demetra, he suddenly felt that he had rescued only one of two “lost lambs.” He and his wife felt they had no choice but to search for the lost sister. They were able to locate her in Tripoli in another home, and when contacted, the girl’s father wanted them to live together. Twenty-nine months later they were reunited. From then on, the sisters’ lives blossomed.
Today, Demetra, now named Rebecca, and her sister Sarah live in the same city. Both have jobs in the medical field. Both are married with children of their own. And, as Calvin Putman said, “It seems the Lord can still use humble shepherds in today’s world.”
This story of the shepherd’s rescue of the lambs, and then the girls, is a reminder of another rescue, for two thousand years ago another shepherd told a story to reveal a truth which was vital then, and is just as crucial today. He spoke of a flock of a hundred sheep—one of them becomes lost. The ninety-nine secure, a long search begins for the one lost, and there is great celebration when it is found at last and returned to the flock. And the shepherd goes on to reveal the crux of the story as representing a picture of the intense desire of God for the rescue of any individual person who is lost. Thus God provides the shepherd, a rescuer—as in the story—to bring the lost one back to God himself.2
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