Identity Found in God
The Shepherd and the Sheep
~ The Shepherd
~ The Sheep
~ The Voice of the Shepherd
~ The Art of Listening
~ The Lost Sheep
~ The Path
~ Living as His Sheep
The 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? Luke 15:4
Being lost. There’s actually two potential sides of being lost. There is the one who’s lost and who doesn’t know where he is – he’s off the path – he’s heading down an unfamiliar path, in unfamiliar territory. By definition, “unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts”. The other end of the concept of being lost is the one who cannot find something, “becoming unable to find something or someone”. The person has lost something or someone.
Back in the day, before the lady with a British accent traveled everywhere with you proclaiming boldly where to turn, in how many miles to turn, or when to reroute, we had to figure things out on our own. Sometimes we got it wrong. Are you a part of a family who doesn’t stop and ask for directions? Oh the feeling of not knowing where you are, but the certainty that surely the small road and a few more sketchy turns will get us back on track! I imagine everyone has some form of story of being lost. It’s a very unsettling feeling. I can relate to what I read about sheep as they are afraid and panicky if they find themselves separated from the flock. When I was younger, the fear of getting left behind was real.
I can also relate to the shepherd who has one sheep missing. With six of us in our family, and as a previous school teacher who has taken many classes on field trips, I find myself counting heads to make sure all are still part of the group. One day we were at the county fair and I was ordering some fair fries. I glanced down to find that Jesses wasn’t in his spot! I looked all around me – he was nowhere! Panic set in, my world seemed to spin as I desperately tried to get a glimpse of him in the midst of the busy crowd. It was just like a nightmare. While only a couple of minutes passed – and maybe even only one – it seemed like eternity – long enough for my mind to fill up with every horrible scenario possible. I dropped everything (leaving the delightful fair fries behind) and sought him out. When I finally found him walking down the dirt path through the concession stands and through the mob of people desperately looking around for me, my heart filled with relief. Oh how I can relate to a shepherd who goes after that one lost sheep who lost his way!
It's not a good feeling to be lost. Matthew 9:36-38 describes Jesus, the Good Shepherd’s heart for His sheep, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Can you step in and relate? Maybe you can relate to Jesus as the Shepherd whose heart goes out to the lost. Perhaps you are obediently being a worker in the harvest field to lead the lost sheep to Jesus. (Well, shouldn’t we all be in this business?) What priceless work! May the Lord of the harvest give you all that is needed to do this work.
Or maybe you can relate to the harassed and the helpless sheep without a shepherd. There are so many pressures in the world we live in, so many distractions that point us away from our shepherd, so much pain that leaves us helplessly crippled. Maybe you are on the dirt path desperately looking around for your shepherd?
Or maybe you are a sheep who has experienced the joy and peace of abiding in the flock under the loving care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. But maybe you’ve wandered. Maybe you’ve been drawn away by outside voices. Maybe you have strayed from the flock. It may have been a gradual stroll in the wrong direction down the dirt path, or maybe you have drifted quickly. If this is you, take note, and notice the pursuit of Jesus after you. It doesn’t matter if you made a wrong turn, He is there for you. Keep an eye out, take heart, He is waiting for you to turn the corner and come back. His arms are open wide waiting to embrace you, His precious sheep. Find your way to Him and join the hope and peace found in His flock.
Maybe you are a harassed and helpless sheep who has never been a part of a flock. Maybe you have never experienced life in the presence of the Good Shepherd. Maybe you have never surrendered or accepted Jesus as your Lord. Oh – it’s not too late! Do you hear His voice calling you? He loves you so much and is pursuing you. He has a place in the flock for you. Run away from the traps and danger, and fall in the arms of Jesus. He has laid down His life for YOU. He did that to make a way for you to spend eternity with Him, in His mighty loving presence. Amazing grace. We were lost, but now are found!
Maybe you are a sheep abiding safely in His flock. Surround yourself with ways that will keep you from being distracted and wandering. Be mindful of how outside voices might suck you in - media voices, political voices, all kinds of voices. Tune your heart to His voice; pray, dig into His Truth. Stay in step with Him so you don’t become swayed and lost.
Connect or Reconnect with your Great Shepherd. If you are lost, know that you have a Shepherd who is seeking after you. You are meant to live in the flock, under His care. Write down ways you sense God reassuring that you are found. What is He asking you to lay down and surrender? Find relief at the image of being found in His flock.