Monday, April 9, 2012

They Know His Voice

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 4/9/12

This photo was taken on Green Monday in rural Cyprus, a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean with less than one million people. It has been very interesting to live in a land somewhere which is part of the E.U. but still developing. In the 70’s, rural people had outhouses, and were using donkeys to plow their fields. Until the ‘60s, people were still harvesting salt from the ancient Larnaka Salt Lake which dries up every summer and becomes blindingly white with crystallized salt. Even today, when people all have satellite dishes, and drive nice cars, Cypriots will sometimes stop their cars in the middle of the street and chat with a friend driving the other direction. Many still make their own olives and dry herbs for home use.

Green Monday is the beginning of Lent in Greek Orthodoxy, where people are supposed to fast for the 50 days leading up to Easter. It begins with fasting from all meat products, then gradually increases to include milk and butter and sugar and by the end, people are only eating bread and vegetables, to remind them of the Lord’s suffering. They celebrate the resurrection at midnight on Saturday of Holy Week with bonfires and firecrackers.

Meanwhile, the local farmers are fattening up their sheep for the slaughter which will take place the days just before Easter, as every family desires to have a large roast lamb for the joyful breaking of the fast with family members on Easter Sunday; if not the whole animal, then at least a leg.

Seeing this flock on a back country road reminded me that a good shepherd is so trusted by his sheep that he does not need to guide the grazing sheep by yelling or beating or whipping them, but rather he leads from the front. His sheep know his voice and willingly go where he leads, knowing he desires not thistles or bitter weeds for his sheep but sweet, green grass and quiet, fresh water streams. What a symbolic reminder of my need daily, even hourly, to hear and willingly follow my Master’s voice and gentle commands. When I resist obedience, I hurt Him and myself, as He must then use trials or discipline to get my attention. But a good sheep trusts and follows her Master’s voice in the right path.

photographer: Susan De Vries, Cypress.

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