Count Your Blessings, Not the Sheep
Television ads are so much a part of our daily lives that we hardly notice them most of the time. But just occasionally there is one that tickles our fancy, so to speak…
Personally, I quite like a recent advert in Britain that promotes a brand of anti-insomnia tablets.
The distraught man in the advertisement is surrounded by advisers who tell him that his time to sleep is rapidly running out: only four hours and fifty-something minutes left to go… So as a last resort, they cry “Release the sheep!”
And with this we are back on familiar territory — the notion of counting sheep as they jump over a fence as a remedy for said sleeplessness, the idea being that you eventually drift off into oblivion through sheer boredom! Although this therapy doesn’t work for me, the ad makes me smile.
Bing Crosby, in his 1954 film White Christmas, took the idea a stage further when he suggested that as we lay awake hoping for sleep, we count our blessings instead of sheep: “And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings,” Bing advised in the Irving Berlin song.
I really like this concept as it invokes another tool to combat wakefulness — and more importantly, it touches on an area in our lives which is sometimes overlooked.
Most of us have much to be thankful for — even our lives themselves — and as such it is good to celebrate this and give thanks to the Lord for it. Because after all, everything comes from God: our gifts and talents, our personalities, personal appearances and our life circumstances. All is pure gift and in our busy, frenetic lives we are sometimes in danger of forgetting this simple fact.
But if you do prefer the age-old idea of counting sheep at night, this initiative also resonates for Christians.
The Gospels are full of references of Jesus being the Good Shepherd and we his sheep.
Contrary to the once-held opinion that sheep have a tiny brain and are extremely stupid, it has now been proven that actually the reverse holds true. So we, as the children of God, created in the image and likeness of him, are intelligent creatures who are nurtured by the loving Lord. And Jesus knows his sheep and his own know him, we are further informed.
Moreover, in John’s Gospel, it is written that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. If we needed any further proof of how much we are loved by the Lord, surely this statement illustrates this beyond all doubt.
We know too that even if we go astray, the Lord seeks to bring us back into the fold, as he told us in this parable:
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (Lk 15:1-7). So not a single one of us is ever lost.
And so, whether we count our blessings or count our sheep, we can always be assured of the one constant in our lives which we can truly count on: the Lord.
Julia Beacroft’s book Sanctifying The Spirit is published by Sancio Books. It is available on Amazon.