Verse: Matt 18:12-14 NIV (The parable of the lost sheep)

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

I recently borrowed a power washer from a friend and, while I was using it, I lost one of the spare nozzles. I looked for it but couldn’t find it and I wasn’t sure exactly when it fell off. I felt really bad. I hate to borrow something and not send it back the way I received it. When I was all done, I decided I would look one more time really hard, being meticulous, moving anything that could hide it. After spending some time and thinking where it could be, I finally found it, a black nozzle in my black mulch.

I was so happy and relieved! God feels the same way. He doesn’t want you to be a nozzle lost in the mulch of this world. This parable demonstrates the value He places on individuals. He is not watching over us as a group. He knows each of us, just like the shepherd knows each of his sheep. And, if we wander off away from His protection and the safety of the flock, He comes to us. He is so excited about our return.

I think I have always misread this parable to be about only those that are lost, have never given their life to God. Certainly, it includes that person since we are all made in His image and He wants all of us to be with Him. But it is also about the sheep that was in the flock and then wandered off. That could be any of us. Maybe that is where you are now, wandering away because of challenges in life that are overwhelming you or societal issues that are confusing and divisive.

If that is you, God cares about what you are going through. He is pursuing you to bring you back to Him. He will walk with you through your turmoil. He will clarify the issues that are confusing for you. He loves you and wants the best for you. Spend a minute to check to see which way you are going. Are you wandering away or are you still with the flock under His care? If you are wandering, turn around and you will see Him right there for you. There is no need for fear because He wants to celebrate your return.

One more thought on this. God wants us to be like Him. If we are in the flock and we see a member wandering away or one that is lost, we should not be judgmental. We shouldn’t require that they change first before we go to them. Instead, we should have the same love for them that God has and be willing to go to them and be with them to help them return to a life with a loving God and a loving community.

Dear Lord, if we feel lost, help us to see that you are pursuing us out of your immense love for us. If we are with you, empower us to be more like you to help those that are lost to come to you. Thank you that you do not leave us in the mulch, but that you return us to our rightful owner, you.

Author: Brad Dunn