Tom’s Instinct

Regular readers will remember Tom, my relatives’ 13-week Border Collie, who came to visit last weekend. He has grown well and his long collie face is coming along nicely. We took him for a walk at Letcliffe Park where he enjoyed playing with other dogs and digging up grass. Then he saw something for the very first time. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. Though it barely moved, he watched it with an intensity and enthrallment: he saw a sheep.

He was born on a farm in Wyresdale and comes from good, working stock. Even though he has never encountered sheep before, something within him leapt to the fore, some instinct in which he knew that this woolly creature was his to command. The farmer will be relieved to learn that there was a fence between them and us and we wisely kept him on his lead. And it is a good job too; had he squeezed through the gap, he would have been over in no time, fulfilling the job for which his ancestors have been bred for hundreds of years. My aunt assures me that he regularly attempts, without success, to round up her cats, and he certainly regards plastic bottles and footballs as fair game, to be herded and controlled.

Just as Tom has an inbuilt desire to round up sheep, so all humans have an inbuilt desire to worship God. That desire for fellowship with our Maker was put there by Him, that we might reach out and find Him. The Bible says ‘Also He has put eternity in their hearts’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11), suggesting that the tawdry distractions with which we seek to satisfy this desire will never work. We might express this yearning by constructing idols or cherishing our rulers or heroes, but they too can never satisfy. Tom might enjoy chasing a plastic bottle, but he was designed to herd sheep. 

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13