2017 was a year of so much hard news—attacks, shootings, political strife—so many days when it was impossible to know what to say. Near the end of the year a tiny island off the coast of Northern Ireland had something to say to me.
So—why is this little island with its steep almost vertical cliffs called Sheep Island? Were criminal sheep sent there? Or maybe does it resemble a sheep? No. It doesn’t look like one bit like a sheep and, as far as I know, while sheep may be foolish they are not criminals.
It’s called Sheep Island because in hard times shepherds sent their sheep there to keep them safe—from thieves or predators. The shepherds would put the sheep in little boats and row them over. And on that high rock they could safely graze.
Don’t you sometimes wish there a safe place you could escape to?
The tiny island immediately reminded me of one of the Psalms—that wonderful prayer book of real-life, messy feelings.
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower.” PSALMS 61:1-3
No matter what is going on around us in 2018, remember Sheep Island. There is a refuge that is eternal. And a shepherd who loves us more than even his own life.