The darkness is filled with silence as the chill of the night causes him to pull a woolen blanket close around his shoulders. Tonight, his awareness of creatures quietly waiting and watching is heightened. The stones piled high make a quasi-safe barrier encircling his flock but experience warns him that hidden danger waits all around – hungering to make a meal of his little ones.
The open entrance gives access not only to those who are permitted but to those who would steal and kill; so here is where he sits on this dark night, here is where he will lay down across this entrance to rest, as the night wears on.
His mind wonders to the afternoon’s activities. As he had begun taking stalk of his sheep, readying for his evening gathering – one was missing. He thought of nothing but that one lost sheep. He searched through the brush, down the mountain side, by the river, and anywhere this little one might have gone. He never once thought of the ninety-nine others that he had left behind as he searched for his lost one. He knows each sheep personally – its looks, characteristics, habits, and movements – to this shepherd, each sheep is as individual as a human. Each one holds a special place in his heart. This has happened many times to him and each time the love he has for that lost one overwhelms him as he persistently traverses dangerous terrain, never thinking of himself – only that one.
Thankfully, today the lost one was found. It had wondered off, all alone and soon had become tangled under brush and was unable to free itself. The shepherd called it by name and with loving hands reached down and set it free. He lifted this tired little one out of the entrapment, drew the quivering body close and with joy, placed it over his shoulders to carry it back to a place of safety within the flock.
Just like that little sheep, we can find ourselves tangled under many different entrapment’s, unable to free ourselves. We wonder off – away from the safety of the flock; or even worse, are snatched from the flock by claws and jaws desiring to steal and kill us. But look up, for you have a good, good shepherd. He knows you by name and without hesitation; with great love, He will leave all the rest, just for you. He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him cannot separate you from the love He has for you.
If you find yourself stuck in a lost empty place – listen and look up – you will find Him calling your name and He will be right there to free you, draw you close and with great joy He will place you over His shoulders and triumphantly carry you to safety.
Luke 15:4-6 “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? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 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 last.’ (ESV)