I’ve been thinking about that lamb – you know – the one that left the 99, the one out of 100 who didn’t want to be with the shepherd or any members of his flock.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? ” ~ Luke 15: 4
You know – that one lamb and that shepherd. There’s a lot of kinds of lost in the world of lambs.
Maybe the lamb was really lost, innocently, unintended, sheer rotten-luck-life-happens happenstance. I’m sure that happens with lambs; it sure can happen with people, especially today. Maybe they’ve been born in a household that doesn’t know, believe, read or talk about The Father and His son. Maybe they haven’t had the teachers, the mentors, the shepherds in their lives to let them know.
Maybe the lamb lost track of the flock because he was distracted – distracted by luscious smells and tastes along the path, smells and tastes that were louder than his bond to the shepherd. Maybe he didn’t intend to become a lost lamb, but his distractions caused him to lag into lostness. I’m sure that happens with lambs, too – and people. There are days when I am caught up in a feeling I cannot shake – and instead of looking to God, I am distracted. Or a good book, a little Bocelli in the background, a just-right mocha can bedazzle my time. Maybe preparing for all my boys or the grands coming – and I dive into that, becoming Martha when I should be Mary. Distractions do not have to be dangerous to endanger our bond with the Father.
Possibly, the lamb was more intentional about losing sight of his flock, his shepherd. Maybe he was a runaway – intentional, resentful like a teenager wanting to break out, full of get-away-do-it-his-way dreams, thinking the shepherd was just holding him back, manipulating him with big stories just to get him in-line for selfish purposes. Maybe he thought the shepherd didn’t value him, didn’t really care if he was there or not. . . . whether it was true or not, the lamb ran away when nobody was looking, thinking he had all the answers, not believing life beyond the shepherd was filled with lions, boars and bears – they were just fairy-tales, big to-do’s about nothing! At least, that’s the reasoning the runaway lamb used for his great escape.
“I don’t need a shepherd,” he reasoned pushing through the thicket. “I can take care of my own wants. I know how to choose a good pasture for a good ol’ yawning sleep.”
“How hard is to find water, anyhow,” he thought bursting through a clearing, feeling a little thirsty but sure a trickling burn or stream would turn up soon. “I don’t need any help making sure I’m o.k. How hard can this be?”
The lamb gamboled further onward, moving from one quick pleasure to another.
“All those other sheep think the shepherd’s paths are the bee’s knees,” he thought scornfully. “They’re just a bunch of old fuddy-duddys. “
No, the lamb was convinced that he didn’t need a shepherd to keep him in boundaries he didn’t want. “There’s no Monster called the Shadow of Death – who believes in monsters anymore,” the runaway lamb said. “There’s nothing to be scared of. That’s made up scare-tactics to control me. . .”
As the lamb lunged onward, sometimes fast, sometimes, slow, careless of his energy and the need for water, he thought, “I don’t need the food you set before me, or the oil you rub across my forehead,” he said, shaking the fly that kept landing on his nose.
The lamb ran and jumped, tasting things he’d never tasted before, thinking, as he rubbed his nose against the tree bark, to ease the itch from the that one fly that just wouldn’t stop following, “Oh, man. This is AWESOME! I KNEW it would be! Every day is gonna be like this. . . who needs. . . that old. . . shepherd anyhow. . . .” He looked cross-eyed at the fly at the end of his nose, and twitched his ear at the buzzing of a second fly, shaking his head to bound on uncaring, unworried, unaware of all that followed him.
Maybe the shepherd found him then, before the flies could irritate his skin into an infection. . . before he thirst grew big and dangerous. . . . before he ate too many of the wrong things. . . before he even realized he needed the shepherd – and that life with the shepherd was a good thing.
Maybe the shepherd found him days later, ill from his excesses, broken down, unable to rise from where he’d hidden himself. . . .
Maybe the shepherd came just in time, just as a lion sniffed out his trail. . . .
All Jesus says, though, is the shepherd left the 99 and searched until he was found. The shepherd left the best behaved sheep behind, the ones with the pretty manners, who listened and trusted Him – who didn’t want to leave him – he left the most pleasingly-behaved sheep behind to find the squeaky wheel, the rule-breaker, the hand-biter, the trouble-maker, the selfish lamb who only thought of himself, a very unprettily-behaved lamb, one might even say an unlovable-behaving lamb.
Yet this next part – this next part, this is the part I’ve been thinking on for weeks and months:
“And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” ~ Luke 15:5
The shepherd has pursued the lamb, tracked him down, not given up despite the conditions of the journey or where the lamb was finally found.
. . . The lamb was found. . . but nothing says the lamb went willingly . . .
Let me say this again: Maybe, though the lamb was found, the lamb did not start the return journey willingly. . .
. . . an unwilling lamb. . . carried by his shepherd. . . Jesus didn’t say saving lost lambs was easy. . .
Let that sink in. . . how would you react, if you outreached to someone who wanted nothing to do with your Jesus. . . would you just say, “O.K. Maybe next time, Buddy” – and wait until the runaway lamb comes looking for Jesus?
Do you think the Shepherd asked, “Hey, Lamb 100 – you ready to come home with me yet?” Do you think he let the lamb decide right then and there to return to the flock?
No! He picked up that lamb to journey with him.
That lost lamb didn’t know what love was, or he would have run alongside his shepherd. If the unbeliever knew what love was, they would love the author of love.
Maybe that’s something you and I need to think about. . . every lost lamb, every soul that doesn’t want Jesus or His love. . . walking away and giving up just because someone doesn’t want Jesus isn’t a option. The shepherd was unwanted, un-appreciated by just one of 99 – and one was too many. He left the 99. . . to save the one lost.
I think Jesus is telling us something so very important here. . . you and I are to pursue the lost sheep, the ones who do not want to be in the flock, the ones who run from Him, the ones who want nothing to do with Him. . . the ones that when you find them might not want to listen about your Jesus, who won’t easily come to knowledge of Him. . . . Jesus wants us to find the lost lambs and journey with them, spend time with the unlovable lamb, the runaway lamb, the troublesome lamb who wants nothing to do with Jesus or the shepherd of his parable.
The shepherd lifted the lamb to his shoulders. . . .
I imagine the shepherd felt burdened hauling around that lamb, regardless of its size. Maybe it wiggled, maybe it smelled like wet wool, maybe a skunk sprayed it. . . Maybe it acted lamb-ugly – because I imagine even lambs can act ugly, just like kittens and dogs, and yes, even children, teens and adults . . . but the Shepherd left the 99 to bring the runaway lamb back, knowing at the outset, the runaway lamb wouldn’t want to go back.
The shepherd lifted the lamb, held him close, talked to him, sang to him, bore with him on the journey back.
Yet, maybe in that journey – maybe it was a few hours, maybe it was a few days, the shepherd ministered to that lamb, bonded with that lamb, made the lamb feel like he belonged. . . took him to the good watering holes, hand-fed him the sweetest grasses, stayed by him in the dark – and carried him. . . . He spent one-on-one time relationship building.
He didn’t tell the lamb he was doomed without him, he didn’t berate him for his wayward behavior. He spent time with the lamb, enough time they got to know each other, to trust each other, develop a relationship of trust, comfort, and heart-knowledge, a one-on-one connection that cemented into a belonging, a good belonging.
The lost don’t need lectures, threats of temporal and eternal disaster. They need a relationship with a loving Father and His son Jesus – and that is found in you and me – and that means relationship with God’s lost children – whether they’re 99 or 15. It means talking, listening, relationship, knowing you are someone they can count on and in the counting on, meet Jesus in your words, in your actions, in your walk, in the work of your hands.
I’ve often wondered if the shepherd journeyed with the lamb until the lamb repented, asked to return with Him to the flock. Scripture doesn’t say the lamb repented before he lifted him – it just says when it returned to the flock they rejoiced:
“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” ~ Luke 15: 6-7.
There’s a lot of lost lambs out there, friends – and the shepherd wants every lost lamb found. . . every single one. . . .
Today, I am remembering and rejoicing that my Shepherd pursued and pursues me, loved me and loves me still – and even more so I am remembering for those I know who are lost lambs – lost but not abandoned, lost yet pursued by the one who knows and holds the saving grace to their stories. I rejoice that He loves them like the shepherd loves those that are his, even though they do not recognize they are his. . . and I am determined that God will show me the way to love His lost lambs, to press in to know them, to learn their stories, and to be the hands and feet of our Lord and Savior, to not give up, though the lost lambs would have me give up. I pray that He gives me the words to speak when it’s time to speak and the determination to keep my mouth closed and my hands up in prayer when I am to do that, too! I thank you, Father! I believe! I trust! You neither forsake nor abandon any lamb, no matter how far or how hidden or determined your lamb is! There are so many lost lambs out there, Father – I pray you will give me the opportunity to make those connections this week, to be the hands and feet of you and your son – and it’s in His name I ask! Thank you, Father!
Remember Me Monday: #15 & Linky
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Grace & Truth,
Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
Recharge Wednesday, https://welcomeheart.com/blog, Worth Beyond Rubies,
Share a Link Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Legacy Link-Up,
Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire,