I've become an avid fan of phone games. You know, those apps you can download on your smartphone for free or 99 cents and become the time suckers we love to hate. A month or so ago, I downloaded a game called "Clouds and Sheep" and I fell in love.
You are given a flock of the cutest little sheep to care for. You feed them, give them water and when they are happy they jump up and little stars appear that you collect to buy them food and drink. You can play with the sheep to make them happier - make them jump, roll them by pulling their little tails - and in higher levels you get props to use to play with like bouncing balls and trampolines. And, when a boy sheep and girl sheep eat flowers, they get amorous and then cuddle up and a red heart floats to the sky into a cloud and down plops a baby lamb! But, the catch of the game is to keep the sheep happy and fed...not too cold or too hot. And keep them from eating poisonous mushrooms that can be fatal. As your flock grows it's hard to keep every sheep healthy and happy, and sometimes they die...by flipping over and floating up into a cloud from whence they came.
This game is somewhat reminiscent of that tamagotchi pet I used to carry around and care for. As the "shepherd" I see the challenges, even though virtual, in keeping the flock focused. Every time one of those mushrooms pop up, a sheep always heads straight to it. Even though they've seen other friends suffer the demise from the consequences of digesting the fungus. It made me think about what the Bible says about Jesus being our Good Shepherd. We are like sheep that have gone astray and boy, are sheep dumb. No matter how many times the Shepherd nudges us with His Staff to comfort us or move us in the right direction, we'll always go back to those "mushrooms" in life that cause us distress.
Silly games like this seem pointless until you learn valuable lessons for everyday living. Whenever I kill a poisonous mushroom, or care for a wandering sheep, I'm reminded how my Good Shepherd never tires of caring for me.