The Coughing Goat

Thursday, May 25, 2023
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Some of my fondest childhood memories take me to an old farm house in which we lived for awhile, near Clinton, Illinois, USA. The old house sat on a hill overlooking rolling pastures and a long lane. What I loved most were the critters that roamed that old farm. At that time, my dad took care of the animals that belonged to the landlord to help with the rent. But in my mind, the cows, sheep, and one old coughing goat were my special pets. Sometimes, if people didn't know any better, they might have thought that the coughing goat was an intruder because of his human-like cough.

One day, I ventured out to start my day, and headed for the barn, my favourite place to play. I was sure that the stray cat that resided there had had her kittens by then. Before I could reach the old rickety building, I was stopped in my tracks at the most horrible sound that I had ever heard. The sheep that normally meandered mindlessly in the pasture were bellowing as if they were being murdered. Wide-eyed, I watched as one sheared sheep after another was released minus their woolly coat, scared and bloodied from the ordeal.

The thing that saddened me most was their fear and confusion as they didn't know where to go. I wanted to help them, but they were lost in their own fear. They needed a leader! They thrashed about in desperation until they heard a baa that came from the old coughing goat. He became their leader, and feeling that they were safe, they immediately became calm.

The Bible talks of sheep many times in the context of their need of a leader or a shepherd. It is well known that sheep are not too smart, and it is even thought that they have poor eyesight. The Bible says that we have all gone astray, like sheep, and need a shepherd. Sometimes, our eyesight fails us, and we can't see past ourselves. Unfortunately, sometimes, we turn to an old coughing goat instead of to the Good Shepherd, Jesus, to lead us.

Many times, not knowing which way to go, I have put my confidence in someone or something unreliable. When I turn to anything other than God's truth, I run after the coughing old goat. Sometimes, I listen to my panicked emotions rather than to the truth found in God's Word. I run amuck, afraid of everything, rather than praying to the Shepherd Who can calm those fears.

If you, dear one, have gone astray and do not know which way to go, remember that the Good Shepherd knows His sheep. He is there to comfort and calm you, to forgive and guide you.

1 Peter 2:25 – For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (NIV)

Prayer: Lord, may we not rely on voices that can lead us astray, like money and power. May the voice of Jesus be the only one that we hear and obey. Help us to listen through the pages of Scripture and in the depths of our prayers. Amen.

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About the author:

Jeanie Nihiser <>
Cerro Gordo, Illinois, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Jeanie.

    Good one. Thank you for sharing.

    A great illustration of a great truth, Jeanie.

    Thank you, Jeanie. May we always follow the Shepherd.

    Thank you, Jeannie, for a lovely devotional today and its relevant challenge.

    Thank you so much for this meaningful message! Amen. May God bless and keep you,
    (Nova Scotia Canada)

    Hi Jeanie. Thanks for today’s message. I am reminded of ghost planes that guide lost pilots home. This happened during the war. Sometimes the most unlikely of saviours can lead us home. Like a coughing goat. Or a carpenter’s son. Keep well and God bless.

    I really enjoyed reading your devotional this morning, Jeanie, and could just visualize all those sheep running astray until the coughing goat got them under control. Yes, in our lives we really need to follow the call and words of Jesus to stay on the right path. Thank you for this special and very meaningful writing.

    Thank you so much for this well-written story. I am thinking now of the various “coughing goats” in my life that want my attention and devotion. Just because their “cough” sounds familiar doesn’t mean I’m safe within their presence. There is only ONE Shepherd who provides all I need. Thank you for reminding me of this today.

    Good afternoon, Jeanie.
    Such good words today, I like the fact that the sheep always listen to the shepherd. When I lived and worked in the Middle East many years ago I saw shepherds, both men and women, with their sheep quite often and their sheep listen to their shepherd all the time, they knew his or her voice. May we too listen to our Shepherd all the time. Thank you for writing.

    Good morning, Jeanie,
    Wow, such an important message and written in such a captivating way. I could feel the responses of your heart as I read this devotional. I could feel your love for others whether they are people or animals and your caring that we all find Our Saviour in Jesus.
    I join with you in your prayer that everyone will hear the voice of Jesus guiding us along the way and searching for us when we get lost.
    Thank you for sharing in your unique and wonderful way so that the message comes across completely. The coughing goat had a purpose which he fulfilled. The sheep had a purpose which they fulfilled. We all have a purpose that God will help us to fulfill. Blessings.

    Thank you for this message, Jeanie.

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