But one day as I thought, “Oh, this story again!” and rolled my eyes, something dawned on me, the lost sheep wasn’t necessarily lost for long! The lost sheep had probably just wandered to the other side of a bush or a rock were he thought the grass would be yummier and the shepherd merely lost sight of him. The shepherd would have had to be counting constantly to even realize that ONE sheep was missing from so many in the first place, and once he realized this he simply, but frantically, began to search the other side of all the bluffs, rocks and bushes nearby. He wasn’t actually abandoning the other sheep, rather, just looking for the one who was lost… probably not even really leaving earshot of the sheep he left in the pasture. In fact, he could probably even see the sheep he left most of the time because he was taller than the rocks and bushes and bluffs he was searching behind. However, he was worried enough about the dangers outside of the safety of the herd that he had to rush to search, heart racing, blood pounding in his ears. When he finds the poor, curious, little guy the relief is so great that it is uncontainable. This is why He carries him on his shoulders rejoicing.
The terror and joy that the shepherd feels would be akin to the terror and subsequent joy I feel when my 3-year-old wanders to the other side of the clothes rack in the mall. Because I cannot see her I begin to practically hyperventilate, imagining every possible horror story come true in my life in an instant, calling out her name and searching frantically. When I find her, even if it has only been a few minutes that she was lost, the moment is burned into my memory forever. I cannot contain my relief and for a week I tell everyone how happy I am to have all my children after my recent “kidnapping scare”. Because this happened, does it mean that somehow I am a bad mother or even that the child is bad? No!
Any of the sheep could have wandered away in search of greener grass to munch on without even realizing that they were leaving the herd. You or I may not have some kind of incredible conversion story like Scott Hahn or Jeff Cavins or even like my ex-atheist husband but then those people weren’t ones who wandered away from the herd, rather, they were acquired into the herd later in life. We are the lost sheep! We are the ones that the Shepherd worries about, We are the ones who wander when we are not paying attention. This is a story of the sheep who are GOOD, not like the prodigal son, and God does worry about us. He counts us constantly to make sure we are still there and comes running after us the moment he realizes he can’t see us anymore.
He loves you even if your story isn’t that “impressive”. Maybe you were “born in the herd”. Maybe you’ve never known anything else, never run away, never been really horrible and yet you’re the one that the Shepherd is worrying about. He loves you more than He can express and knows that if anything ever happened to you no amount of money or other compensation could ever replace you.
Do you believe it?