When I hear the parable of the lost sheep, in my mind I connect that sheep with either former members of the Church, or those who’ve become less-active in their worship, or with someone who’s heard the Gospel message and rejected it. The parable describes the Saviour leaving the “ninety-and-nine” – the faithful who continue in activity or discipleship, or who have accepted Him. I usually place myself in that group. We are the ones who are fine to be left on our own, apparently….perhaps the Lord trusts us to not do anything stupid while He’s away. With this interpretation, though, I also feel a little miffed that God chooses to “leave” these faithful ones (faithful meaning persevering/consistently-believing, not better-than) alone in order to seek the lost one out. Not because that lost sheep doesn’t really need rescuing, but because surely the rest of us also need protection, help and comfort. Why is He leaving us?
But then tonight, as I thought of that story again, I saw myself as the lost sheep. Not because I’ve lost my testimony of truth, or given up on discipleship of Christ, but because I am in need. Because I feel alone, or discouraged, or need inspiration and encouragement; because I have gifts I haven’t discovered or expressed; because I want to be better but can’t get there on my own, even though I’m trying; because I’ve gotten myself into a difficult situation and can’t find a way out alone. Because I, too, am scared of the dark and the thorns, and because I, too, am often too proud to admit my mistakes. And Christ is leaving the ninety-and-nine for me. He is coming to my rescue. The Saviour will not – cannot – leave me alone when I am ‘lost’; as the One who has loved us from the beginning, who has “graven us upon the palms” of his hands, who has our “walls continually before” him, rescuing is what He does.