From my wife’s country of New Zealand there was a sheep named Shrek that became a national celebrity in 2004. Shrek was not the world’s oldest sheep in the world. He was not the fastest or strongest in the world. What made him unique was that he really, really, really did not like getting his hair cut. So much so that he eluded his owners for six years by hiding in a cave.
An article in Modern Farmer mentions that “Wild, primitive sheep such as the Bighorn Sheep of the Canadian Rockies will shed their wool every spring and grow it again before the cold winter. On the other hand domesticated sheep such as Shrek will keep growing the wool thicker and thicker without ever having shed any”. There is continual year round growth of wool. Eventually six years later when Shrek was located by his owner he could not even tell he was a sheep. Carrying 60 pounds of matted wool (enough wool for 20 men’s suits) Shrek was suffering from heat stress (the warmth of all the wool was causing him to easily overheat), mobility issues (the weight was making it hard for him to move) and vision impairment (the wool was right over Shrek’s eyes and he was not able to see). Shrek was filthy with thick matted wool, and smelled badly, but a quick check of the tag buried in the wool indicated that the long lost sheep had been found. The owners were elated.
When that lost sheep was found after 6 long years, not only did the owner celebrate, when the nation of New Zealand “got wind” of Shrek, he became a national icon. Shrek got to meet the then Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark at the national parliament in Wellington. He became famous in children’s books, postcards and videos. People were so interested in Shrek’s return, the owner kept him in air conditioned comfort for a few weeks so that reporters could broadcast this amazing return of the lost sheep. Then, on live television broadcast nationally throughout New Zealand, and taped versions broadcast internationally on CNN and BBC, world champion sheep-shearer Peter Casserly shaved off six years’ worth of matted wool. The 60 pounds of wool was auctioned off at record high prices for charity.
In a country where there are 10 times as many sheep as there is people, Shrek has stood out and captured the hearts of people with his delightful story. He has raised huge sums of money for charities. In a HuffPost article, Shrek’s owner John Perriam mentions that “Shrek had an unbelievable personality. He loved children, and he was really good with the elderly in retirement homes. He was just an ordinary sheep, went AWOL and hid. And when he was found he became the darling of the nation”. In 2011, at the age of 16 Shrek died of old age. And the nation of New Zealand mourned.
The story of Shrek reminds me so much of the parable of which Jesus spoke of the lost sheep found in Luke 15:1-7. The parable was spoken is response to the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were critical of Jesus who was hanging out with questionable characters tax collectors and outcasts. They were the undesirables of the day. They might not have looked, talked or even smelled like the societal norms of the day. But to Jesus each one had incredibly great worth. Jesus desired that everyone, no matter how desperately they have fallen is totally worth saving.
Much like Shrek, human beings are on the run and hiding from the one who owns us, and in the case of humans, hiding from the one who created us….GOD. That is why God came to earth in the form of a human. His name was Jesus. We celebrate Christmas when He came to earth as a baby. And we celebrate Easter when Jesus died in our place and then rose from the dead.
And just like Shrek, when one human being who has run away and hiding from God and reunited with his or her creator there is a party in heaven. The Bible says in Luke 15:7 “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”. We are that valuable to God.