Lessons from a Sheepdog by Philip Keller



This will be a dog lover’s favorite devotional book; especially if your kind of dog is an energetic, working breed like mine was, or if you love animal rescue stories that turn out well.   Philip Keller is a shepherd and owner of a rugged wind-swept sheep ranch by the sea in Vancouver.   Because he was working alone he desperately needed a dog to help him.  He answered an ad and found Lass, a misused, misunderstood, misplaced Border Collie cringing in the dirt tied with two chains.  That is the beginning of a beautiful story, a story that the author uses to draw many rich parallels to our spiritual journeys with Jesus.


The beginning of their relationship was not promising, just as often our spiritual situation when we meet Jesus is not.  But Keller saw potential in the animal just as God knows the potential locked up in each of us, potential that will never be released as long as we are serving the wrong spiritual master.


When he brought Lass home to his ranch, she would not even eat.  He had to set her free.  She ran away, but stayed in the vicinity and ate the food he provided.  Then one day she returned to him out of her own free-will.  It’s the way we must come to God too.  He sets the stage; he invites; but he waits for us to respond.    Then Philip’s love and care overcame Lass’s fear and bad conditioning.   That is what God can do for us too.


As Lass grew as a sheepdog, Philip Keller was challenged by her love of serving him.  She wanted so much to please him.  He writes, “Too many of us have the wrong view of work with God.  Too many of us look upon it more or less as a grim bondage.  Too many of us regard it as a sort of serfdom.  No, no, no! For when we truly come to know His touch upon our lives, and sense the sweetness of His Spirit at work in our souls, we are aware of being liberated into joyous experiences and adventurous undertakings of enormous enthusiasm.”   The willing, loving service of Lass became an inspiration to Keller that leaps with abandon out of the pages of the book and fills the reader’s soul as well.


His telling of the story of his relationship with Lass becomes the basis also for fruitful discussion of basic discipleship topics such as trust, discipline, obedience, mutual self-giving, love and availability.   Along the way, the reader gains further insights into the life of a shepherd and the nature of sheep too.


I highly recommend this book.  It is a quick one-evening read and a read that men will especially enjoy. The book was copyrighted in 1983 but was re-released in 2002 and is readily available online.






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