The joys of lambing

Lamb survival is highly dependent on the nutrition of the ewe

Lamb survival is highly dependent on the nutrition of the ewe

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Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

It’s hard to believe that lambing time is here again.

For sheep farmers like myself, lambing time is our harvest. It’s when you finally find out if all your efforts to get ewes in the right condition for tupping have paid off. Or whether the silage you made last year was really as good as you thought - and if that new ram you bought at last year’s pedigree sales was worth the investment or not!

I’ve no idea how many lambs I’ve helped into the world over the years. Though I must admit, with each new birth, I can’t help feeling anxious. Maybe it’s just me, but for those few seconds between a lamb being born and taking its first gasp of air, I can’t help but wonder, ‘Is it alive?’ Thankfully, in most cases, that first breath is quickly followed by a cough, a shake of the head and eventually a clambering to the feet. Relief at last and another safe arrival.

I wish that was true of every lamb, but unfortunately not. Sadly, some are born perfectly formed, yet missing the most important thing of all – life. “Where you have livestock, you’ll have dead-stock” is the old saying, but still I can’t help feeling if there was something I could have done to save it. Did the ewe get hurt, or maybe pick up an infection? Is there a mineral deficiency? Should I have intervened earlier?

The Bible teaches us that each one of us is born spiritually dead because of our sin (Ephesians 2:1). We were created by God and for His Glory, designed and made in His perfect image. We all enjoy His blessings in abundance each day. Yet because of sin, we are missing the most important and valuable gift of all – eternal life with Him.

I could spend hours trying to revive a dead lamb, but it would be time and money wasted. My very best efforts, or even those of an experienced vet, would be completely in vain. In the same way, I can go to much effort to make myself appear right in the eyes of God, but that too is futile.

Thankfully though, such is God’s love for us that He himself provided a remedy for the deadness of sin. Recognising our utter helplessness, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to deal with the problem of sin. Jesus came that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

God’s remedy for sin is 100% effective, proven to work on all who receive it. Jesus’ promise is that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). There’s no need to take God’s remedy alongside something else, it’s more than sufficient on its own. “No one comes to the Father except through me,” says Jesus (John 14:6). And God’s remedy doesn’t have an expiry date, it lasts forever, it is eternal – “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus offers the gift of life to everyone, we just need to reach out and accept it by trusting in Him.

Ronald Annett works for a local animal feed company and helps out on the family farm in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains.  He is a member of Mourne Presbyterian Church in Kilkeel, County Down.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.