Wandering Sheep

She had that wild-eyed look about her as she rushed around the corner. She declared for the world to hear, “Ashley is missing!”

The response from somebody standing nearby was, “What?”

“Ashley is missing!” was this frantic mother’s reply as she rushed to speak with a park official standing nearby.

This jolting exchange occurred about 20 years ago. I’m pleased to report that Ashley was quickly found without incident. She is now a young woman and doing well. However, on this day, when our church group was visiting the Oklahoma City Zoo, we had a real scare. The thought of this precious child being missing sent everyone in our group scrambling in response to what we believed was a developing disaster. We were all grateful that she was found quickly. No one more so than her mother, though.

As I reflect on this episode, I’m reminded of just how much God cares for His children. In fact, I believe that Jesus once told a story, which the Holy Spirit reports to us in the context of God’s interest in and concern for the welfare of His children, to underscore this very fact. We refer to this as the Parable of the Wandering Sheep. As recorded in Matthew 18:12-14, it reads as follows:

“What do you think? 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? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

When I think of these verses I remember a lot of lessons, some that I’ve taught, about our need to be like God and be about the business of searching for lost sheep. I don’t disagree that this is a valid application of the truth of these verses. However, I’m beginning to think that the primary purpose for these verses may be getting obscured by emphasizing this point of application.

It seems to me that the thundering message of the parable pertains to our heavenly Father’s will regarding wandering sheep. Make no mistake about it! God will come looking for sheep who wander from the fold! He will do that through humans who serve as His helpers in this regard, but the point is clear: God cares about and will passionately pursue wanderers.

This is very comforting. When sheep get outside of the stream of God’s will, there is nothing that the devil likes to do more than to pounce on them, telling them what wretched people they are. He will use their wayfaring status as leverage to convince them that their sin is so great, that they are so far gone in their departure that there is no hope for them. Some of us have had conversations with people who need to be convinced that this is a lie, foisted upon them by the father of liars. Some of us have been the wanderers. Regardless, we all need to remember that human sin will not take us anywhere that our loving God and His abundant grace cannot reach us and save us. Not only will God come looking for us, He does so because He wants us safe in the fold!

May God help us all to remember just how much our heavenly Father cares for each of us. May God help us all to remember that His one and only Son came to seek and to save what was lost. May God help us all to remember that our heavenly Father is not willing that any of His little ones should perish.

Would you like to listen to this message? If so, click HERE.

© Bill Williams
March 2, 2007

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Children, Christian Living, Christianity, Embracing Grace, Following Jesus, Grace, Kingdom Living, Writing Samples. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Wandering Sheep

  1. Greg England says:

    Bill: Good thoughts, as usual. Reminds me of an event just shortly after we moved to CA. We’d heard “stories” of children abducted in shopping malls out here to be sold into prostitution and other horrible forms of slavery. So while shopping in a J.C.Penny store one evening, our 8-year-old daughter suddenly disappeared. My wife immediately told a store manager to lock the doors and not let anyone leave until this store was searched! I guess she was convincing because he did just that! We found her a few minutes later hiding under a clothes rack in the young women’s department. But nothing was more important than finding that child. And God gave his Son that we might be found.

  2. Neva Cooper says:

    I love this story–I love the fact that God actively looks for His own–that is those who have “wandered” away. It is a bit of a contrast with the prodigal son–who willfully and deliberately left his father. Then the patient and forebearing Father waits for the son to return.
    Both show His love for His own.
    Peace, brother

  3. Maggie says:

    I have a friend whose college aged son has “disappeared” into his first year of college. I heard today they they’ve gone to look for him several times and tried to call…no answer, no boy. Such a great kid. I’ve felt “weepy” about it all day and was thankful for these stories of encouragement. Thanks, Bill.

    Greg’s wife: What a woman! A great idea…LOCK THE DOORS! 😀

  4. johndobbs says:

    Excellent, Bill. I would guess most all parents have had a moment like this … chilling. Helps us identify God’s compassionate love for us. Great post.

  5. Pingback: Prayer 3: What We Want « Out Here Hope Remains

  6. Kathy says:

    Some of us may be a bit more thankful that God DOES pursue the wanderers than others. If it weren’t for that Hound of Heaven how would we ever have been able to find our way back and to be welcomed, embraced by the Father, as was the ‘prodigal son’.

    Thank You, LORD!!!

  7. Royce says:

    Thanks for the Post Bill.

    A sheep is always a sheep. And Neva, the son who left was still a son. He was out of the house but not out of the family.

    Yep, God loves people more than we do and is more willing to forgive them than we are.

    Grace and Peace,
    Royce Ogle

  8. Bill it is indeed a great comfort to know that the Creator is also my Shepherd. I do plenty of wandering and he gently brings me back. But there have been a few times he has had to get the staff out …

    Bobby Valentine

  9. Emily says:

    Hello Bill! It has been a while since I have visited the blogging world. I pray that you are well and blessed. Thank you for your posts, they always encourage me whatever season of life I’m in :). It is indeed so comforting to know that our Lord is so dedicated to us, like a shepherd to his sheep. Thanks for reminding us of this great truth!

    God bless always,


  10. Keith Davis says:

    “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” No greater words than this and no greater truth. And to know that it’s me that He loves is just incredible!! Thaanks for a great post Bill.

  11. cwinwc says:

    Comforting words Bill. Thanks.

  12. preacherman says:

    Thanks Bill.
    Great post.

  13. Tim says:

    Thank goodness God is not just a mere man. He is so much higher, and we have a lot to learn. May God grant us the desire and the wisdom to stay in the fold and help the wonderer instead of kicking them.

  14. Dee Andrews says:

    I’m sorry to be so late chiming in on this post, Bill. I’ve been by a couple of times the past week, but was “too busy” to take the time to comment. I suppose you could say that I had wandered away from the blogging fold! Sorry!

    I really like your different focus and emphasis on this passage than I have ever heard. It’s much more comforting to me than the application I’ve always heard, although I realize we must be on the lookout for fellow “wanderers” and go after them as we can. But in reality, don’t we all “wander away” from time to time and lose sight of exactly where we should be?

    Good thoughts. Dee

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