Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lost Sheep

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine 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 neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ Luke 15:4-6

It was the Sunday School Christmas party last year. We each brought a "dirty santa" gift. There were practical jokes mixed in with coveted items. It was one of the last gifts and the man next to me unwrapped a single sheep. Everyone was perplexed at the gift and wondering what practical joke was being played...until my sense of humor kicked in and I exclaimed, "Someone's nativity scene is missing a sheep!" The class erupted in laughter and we all agreed someone must have forgotten to buy a gift and grabbed the sacrificial lamb from their nearby nativity and threw it in a gift bag.

It wasn't until the end of the game when it was revealed that the single sheep represented the gift of livestock that had been purchased for a needy family. Sheesh. Leave it to me to turn that into a joke! (Needless to say, almost a year later, this joke still lives on.)

Recently E has been learning about the Parable of the Lost Sheep combined with the Prodigal Son thanks to Veggie Tale's Pistachio. From the backseat this morning he asked, "Mom, why did the sheep get lost?"

"He was supposed to stay with his family but he probably wandered off and got lost. This is why mommy says to stay close to me so I always know where you are," I answered.

"But if you don't know where I am, what will happen?" The concern in his voice let me know he needed an answer.

I peered in the rearview mirror to catch his eye and explained, "I will come find you. Just like the shepherd went to find the sheep and just like Pistachio's daddy went to find him."

There was a long pause so I thought he was happy with that answer, but then I heard him say, "But when I don't obey will you come find me?"

"Eli, mommy will ALWAYS love you and I will ALWAYS want you to be close to me. No matter what you do or what happens, you are ALWAYS close in my heart. Yes! I will ALWAYS come find you," I reassured him.

As I'm teaching my son about my unconditional and never-ending love for him, I am coming to understand all the more the Father's love for me.

Make no mistake, I wasn't taken from my rightful spot in the nativity. On the contrary, I have been the one guilty of wandering off. It was by my own choosing, foolishness, or even distraction, when I left the flock. He has rejoiced over finding me when I was lost. He has welcomed me with open arms when I've returned. He has treated me as royalty, His chosen daughter, despite the decisions I've made that have caused His heart to break. He has celebrated finding me. He's brought me back into the flock and He's continued to watch over and care for me. At times I've been lost. Other times sinful. Still other times I've been undesirable, disobedient, even unlovely - mangled and marred from the briars and muck I've found myself tangled in. And still He calls me His own. He'll always love me. Always want me close to Him. And He'll always come and find me.

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