One day (before I initially left to move interstate), I was driving to the nearest regional city for some food supplies for the week. On my right and left were many green fields and growing crops. And cattle. And sheep.
“Pull over, friend!” I heard.
So I pulled off to the side of the road.
“Yes, Jesus?” I said.
“I want you to sit still by the side of the road and watch the sheep in the field over there,” He said.
“Oooo-kaaaaay,” I said. “Right. Can do.”
So I sat there and watched the sheep for a few minutes. As I watched, I saw them go from their subdued feeding stances to a massive mob-run from one side of the field to the other. It all happened in under a minute. And all that had transpired to cause the sudden bolt from one place to the next, was a single sheep who had decided to be scared by something non-existent behind her; then off the whole mob went.
As the sheep arrived at the other end of the field, a few of them sectioned off and ran in the opposite direction. Not more than a couple of seconds later, the main group of sheep swung around and followed the break-aways.
When initially the sheep had been still, all was calm. But now they were bolting left, right and centre, the ground was stirred up. Just the sounds of their moving hooves was breeding fear among them. Panic was begetting panic. Literally, because they were so focused on the non-existent fear of it all, they didn’t have time to stop, think, or even assess if what first began the raucous mob behaviour was even “a thing”.
“Where are you in all of their fear and panic, Catherine?” said Jesus.
“I am here. Seated. I’m in my car watching,” I said.
“You are still, aren’t you?” He said.
“One of the reasons I say that I am your shepherd in Psalm 23, and that I make you lie down in green pastures, is so that you will stop. So that you’ll be still for a while. When you are still in my presence, your fear will calm and you will be able to begin to find clarity.
One of the reasons I say I will lead you beside STILL waters is that in the stillness, there is (again) no reason to run, freak out, or be fearful: it is there by the waters that I will restore your soul.
Doctors say that you can never heal from trauma, but ‘I’ CAN heal it. It says so right there in my word: I will restore your soul… the places trauma has damaged.
Also, i wish people understood that ‘mob mentality’ is a real thing.”
As Jesus spoke, I continued to watch the mob of sheep across the road. They were wearing themselves out from all the skittish running they were doing. It had got to the point that they didn’t even seem to have a clue as to why they were continuing to run at all.
I started thinking about news media pieces and comments sections. I thought about how the news pieces today are largely algorithm-based. I thought about how it’s usually mob responses that arrive in the comments sections on those pieces. Then I thought about how it only takes one catch-cry from the media about how “this person is bad and that person is now good” or “this theory is right and that theory is wrong” for everyone to jump on board the mob bandwagon and trample that person or theory to death.
Finally, I thought about how I was sitting still in the car. I wasn’t a part of the mob across the road, because I was sitting still. I was pondering beside Jesus. And I realised that in order for me not be be caught up in the mobs of the future, I would need to rest my mind, will and emotions (my soul) in Jesus, beside still waters, where I could hear more clearly. See better. Take the time to understand what was going on, rather than being rushed into split-second decision making.
Mob movement is usually always perpetuated by emotion. Often fear, but sometimes not. Mobs can be unpredictable, short-fused, directionless (even though they might ‘feel’ like they have a cause or some direction), and in a mental state that prevents quality of perception (flight or fight mode).
My takeaway from this scenario with Jesus was as follows: the next time I want to become a part of a mob because I feel the pull in my emotions and the seeming ‘directionality’ of it, I need to stop and be still for a while. The mob shouldn’t have the right to dictate to me the direction I’m supposed to run in. I need to remember who I am and that I am always under the care of my Shepherd (if I allow it to be so).
I need to remember that mobs are not Jesus. Emotions are not Jesus. My own rightness is not Jesus. These things should never rise above the person of Jesus in my world… it is my heart to always aim to recline beside the waters with Him and hear what He (as my shepherd) has to say about any situation firsthand.