Saturday, August 24, 2013

One of the 90 and 9

My oldest daughter asked me the other day why Christ spent all his time searching after the one lost sheep. “What about the others?” she asked. “What if you are one of the 90 and 9 who never did anything wrong? The scriptures don’t tell us how He feels about them.”

Well, to my daughter who rarely does anything wrong, let me open your eyes to some truths you may not have thought about.

Every shepherd spends hours tending his flock. He is there when the lambs are born and he watches them frolic and grow. When it comes time to take them out of the fold so they can feed and drink he knows where the very best pastures are and where the best and safest access to water is located. That is where he takes them.

Like all flocks, the sheep do tend to disperse on the trail and, again, in the verdant pastures. Some will wander too far one way and he will bring them back. Sometimes all he has to do is call and the sheep will respond to his voice. Other times he may have to go out and physically direct them back to the best grasses and safest waters. Sheep are timid animals so he can’t use force or the whole flock will flee. He has to gently and lovingly move them back to where he has brought them…to the very best pastures and purest waters.

So, when one of those sheep takes off in forbidden paths the shepherd knows that sheep isn’t going to find better fields. There are no better fields. He has brought them to the finest places available.

Well, he could sit there and let the lost sheep succumb to the dangers of those other places but, in his mind and his heart, he can’t. He has watched that sheep grow up from frolicking lamb. He has smiled at the sheep’s personality and he knows the sheep’s value and potential. Because of that, he frets about the lost sheep until he is compelled to leave the 90 and 9 and go find it.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make.

While he is gone that little flock of sheep are on their own but they are not forgotten. Now, every step of his journey, he is also worries about the 90 and 9 he left behind. It’s a reverse effect. You can’t forget the one while it is gone and you can’t forget the 90 and 9 while you are gone.

The shepherd continues searching for the lost sheep and hopes he can accomplish his mission before wolves come in and scatter the rest of his beloved flock…or destroy the one he is seeking.

Back in the pasture most of the sheep have noticed he is gone but they trust he will return. Why? Because he has always been there when they needed him. So they graze calmly and quietly side-by-side. They share the rich grasses he has provided for them, letting others in the flock nuzzle in close as they graze. Sheep rarely kick or fuss with each other in the pasture because they have learned to get along. They are truly a banded family.

Because of the shepherd, they also know the outer edges of their pasture and most don’t stray beyond it. When a few do, the calls of the older sheep will lure them back.

They know the location of the pure, sweet water and follow the path he marked down there and back. They don’t try any other way…not because they are dumb but because they are smart. They know and trust if this is the path designated by the shepherd this is the best and safest path to take.

If any danger or concern presents, at least one of the sheep will call out an alarm and the rest of the flock will be alerted.

Their willingness to comply, to do the right thing, to be trustworthy and helpful and stick with the flock ALLOWS the shepherd to leave in search of the lost one.

He couldn’t leave if he was constantly forced to contend with the rebellions of the entire flock but, because there are daughters like you, he is able to go out and save people you may know and love some day.

Even when you are alone he knows you will do the right thing and that is a great thing to have—his trust. Not everyone does.

And, just because you can’t see him right now doesn’t mean he has forgotten you. His thoughts, his heart and his prayers are turned to you even as he searches for the sheep that never should have strayed in the first place. He doesn’t want to leave you alone. He doesn’t like to leave you alone but he is grateful he can. He is so thankful he will come back and find you right where he placed you, grazing peacefully in the middle of the wilderness, safe and unhurt.

And one day, I promise you, you will also be thanked by the “one” he found and rescued because you were one of the 90 and 9. You were one of the ones the shepherd could trust enough to leave alone and go rescue the “one”.

It takes a very special, reliable and trustworthy lamb to be one of the 90 and 9. You, my dear daughter, have gained a very honored and treasured position.