Counting Sheep

counting sheepI was having one of those toss-and-turn sleepless nights. Time crawled by. I tried ‘counting sheep’, but that was just not getting it done. My mind was jumping from thing to thing. I wondered, where did the phrase ‘counting sheep’ come from? I got out of bed for a quick computer search which yielded the following: “The most popular belief, according to Mental Floss, has to do with shepherds in medieval Britain. Apparently, if shepherds used communal grazing land, they were obligated to keep a headcount of their sheep each night. So before they went to sleep, they counted their sheep to ensure that they were all accounted for”.  The phrase ‘counting sheep’ has since morphed to mean “to perform any repetitive or monotonous thought exercise as a means of calming the mind to try to fall asleep (such as the traditional sleep aid of counting imaginary sheep)”.

As I pondered this less-than-exciting information, I had a revelation. Why count sheep when I could talk to the shepherd! My mind began to take comfort and rest because, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still watersHe restores my soul” (Psalm 23, NKJV).  I thought of Jesus’ parable about a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine sheep in order to find the one which is lost (Luke 15:3–7). A sense of calm began to settle over my soul.

What a comfort to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27, NKJV). I was able to follow Him to peaceful sleep and rest. I heard Him say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30, NKJV).

Conclusion: If you are having trouble sleeping, don’t bother counting sheep, talk to the Shepherd!

~ Brother Roy

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