The Fence Crawler

“And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”
– Genesis 19:25-26 (ESV)


This weekend I finished reading a short devotional book written by Phillip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. Mr. Keller spent several years of his life working as a shepherd and wrote this book on Psalm 23 based on his own experiences as a sheep owner and rancher.

Mr. Keller discussed an episode with a ewe in his care that had trouble staying with the flock. Although his flock was well cared for, this one ewe always stayed close to the fence, looking for a hole where she could sneak through to get to the other side. What often happened is that this ewe found that the pasture on the other side was not worth grazing on, but that didn’t stop her from repeating this process time after time. Keller explained that the ewe’s actions became a great distraction to the rest of the flock. The ewe was never content and her fence crawling unfortunately rubbed off on the other sheep. This made life difficult for Keller as he had to work harder to keep the flock together, since this ewe led the others into several dangerous situations. Sadly, he was left with just one way to resolve the situation:

It was a difficult decision to make, for I loved her in the same way I loved the rest. Her strength and beauty and alertness were a delight to the eye. But one morning I took the killing knife in hand and butchered her. Her career of fence crawling was over. It was the only solution to the dilemma. She was a sheep, who in spite of all that I had done to give her the very best care, still wanted something else.

It is a solemn warning to the carnal Christian, backslider, the half-Christian – the one who wants the best of both worlds.

Sometimes in short order they can be cut down.

Although I was a bit shaken up by this story, I found it to be a great warning. God is patient, but His mercy will not be there forever. We certainly would do well to remember our previous life without God and realize how empty it really was. But if we instead crawl the fence and look back at that life and what this world has to offer with a sense of longing, we will end up meeting the same fate as Lot’s wife did.


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