A parable about sheep and shepherds makes a wonderful children’s story. After years of leading children’s choirs and musicals, Kathie Hill’s musical “We Like Sheep” remains one of my favorites. I still recall sweet voices singing, “He never falls asleep counting sheep. Each number stands for a precious lamb that he’s been trusted to keep. No matter how long the day has been, we can always count on him. He never falls asleep counting sheep.” Jesus’ story about a shepherd who won’t stop looking for the lost sheep inspires children and their teachers alike.
But will the story’s original audience, those grownups grumbling about the company Jesus keeps, be inspired by his creative response to their complaints? Jesus addresses their issue head on, explaining that welcoming the lost back into the fold is the point of his ministry. Such activity should bring joy to the faithful. If such acts of grace do not bring us joy, we need to identify what it is within us that is lost.
In this parable, as well as the other ones about being lost, we learn that God is always pursuing us. God doesn’t slumber or rest from the work of loving and redeeming us. Rather, God seeks those who are lost and brings them back to the place where they belong, where God’s Spirit connects with our spirit. Our place is with God, and God will go to great lengths to bring us home.
How is God pursuing you right now? If you aren’t sure, think about the aspects of your life that are most stressful, and those that bring you the most joy. What might God want you to realize through each of those experiences?
Good Shepherd, remind me today of the ways that you love me and hold me in your grace. Amen.