I’ve been thinking about life after being found for the lost sheep in our recent Journal post, and wondering who might have related to the story. (Which explains why it was followed by the Truth or Dare post.) Because we’re pretty sure we’re not the only ones who feel lost and alone and afraid sometimes, it helps us feel a little less alone in our vulnerability when people respond to what we share. So if you ever feel inclined to leave a comment on our Facebook page, we would love it. But we also understand completely if that feels a little too vulnerable for you, so no pressure. That’s what the LIKE option is for! We just hope you’re hanging in there with us, enjoying the read and the ride.
So…did anybody wonder, like I did, what life was like for that lost sheep after it was found? The story goes that the shepherd is so happy about finding his lost sheep that he invites his friends to come celebrate with him, and that’s pretty much all that is said about it. But I can’t help wondering how many out there might be thinking:
You mean he doesn’t get in trouble? No berating, belittling, or punishment after the party’s over and all the guests have gone home? I mean, he did cause a lot of trouble by getting lost, and he knew better than to go wandering off like that. Shouldn’t he feel guilty? Shouldn’t there be some harsh consequences for that little trouble-maker?
Well apparently not, even though many of us might have finished the story that way. You know that tendency in our brains to fill in missing letters and words when we’re reading, seeing what we think is supposed to be there even when it’s not? We can do the same thing in life…filling in what we believe fits because certain life experiences have programmed our brains to believe and expect a certain outcome. And for many of us, what fits in this story is completely different from the scenario Jesus presented. Our life experience taught us to expect punishment, fear of disappointing others, shame and guilt for the trouble we’ve caused…and we simply cannot imagine God being this kind, this caring, or this committed to us. But that was the whole purpose of the stories Jesus told… to fill in the gaping chasm between what the world thought about God and what He knew was true. He told stories He knew people would relate to (even to this day), and that by relating to and entering into them with our imaginations, we would catch glimpses and whispers of truths our hearts long to believe, but often seem too good to be true.
So take a deep breath and relax for just a minute. Now…imagine the utter relief of being found (or even found out) when you realize you are completely lost or in over your head in some kind of trouble. And instead of the harsh punishment or condemnation you expected, you feel strong, safe arms around you and hear these words whispered in your ear by the kindest, most loving and gentle voice you’ve ever heard.
I am taking care of you. I know how hard this is to believe when conditions that are troubling you get worse instead of better. It’s easy to feel as if I am letting you down – as if I really don’t care about what you’re going through. You know that I could instantly change your circumstances, and you can’t understand why I seem to be so unresponsive to your prayers. But I repeat: I am taking care of you.
To become aware of My loving Presence, you need to relax and stop trying to control things. Give up your futile efforts to think your way through your problems. Fall back into My strong arms with a sigh of trust. Cease striving and simply enjoy being in My Presence. Though there are many things you don’t understand, you can rest in My unfailing Love. This Love is independent of all circumstances, and it will never be taken from you.
Although My ways may be mysterious and unfathomable, My Love is perfect and everlasting. Watch in hope for Me, remembering that I am God your Savior. *
This is the Shepherd in the story…the good, kind, strong, and committed Shepherd. This is God, the way He really is. The way He wants us to know Him. Do you hear the kindness? The gentleness? The love? Do you feel the comfort and safety and peace? Just imagine this being true about the God we always thought was mean, mad, or indifferent. Imagine this being what He says and sounds like when He finds us wandering around scared and alone in our problems, trying to figure out what to do and which way to turn.
What if we’ve had Him all wrong and He really is as good and kind and committed as the shepherd in the story? What if our hearts know that we really do want this kind of love and care in our lives…and that this story really is about a good God who wants us to have what He knows our hearts really long for?
Isn’t that the sweetest thought? Stay in the story for just a minute more. Let the words of this good God wash over you and fill up those places inside that need to know and experience a completely new scenario.
He really is like this…and He really wants you to know it.