|Photo by Ruth Hamilton|
My sister has been posting photos on FaceBook from her recent vacation abroad. Just the other day I posted one here and added a verse from Psalm 23. Taking up the theme, she recently sent me the photo above with the caption, "The Lost Sheep?" (Click on the photo for a larger version.)
I like the photo and I like the caption.
Here's the scripture from Matthew 18: 12-14
- What is your opinion?
- If a man has a hundred sheep
- and one of them goes astray,
- will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
- and go in search of the stray?
- And if he finds it, amen, I say to you,
- he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine
- that did not stray.
- In just the same way,
- it is not the will of your heavenly Father
- that one of these little ones be lost.
As the parable suggests,
this lone sheep has, for some reason.
strayed from the flock and its Shepherd
and is lost, in need of rescue...
Could one who is lost be so visible,
so easy to find?
Sometimes the one who's lost isn't hidden at all
but stands, rather, right at our side.
Who in my own circle is lost
and yet in plain view,
right beside me, near me, within my arm's reach?
Or perhaps the one who appears to have gone astray
isn't lost at all...
Perhaps it's the 99 who have wandered off, as a herd,
not really knowing where they were going...
The photo shows the lone sheep but not the 99.
Where are they?
- with us, this side of the fence,
the lone sheep having transgressed the boundary?
- or behind the lone sheep
who's gone ahead to survey the hills for the others?
And what of the Shepherd?
Where is he? Where is he searching?
Has he given this sheep to wander,
to see where it might go?
Does he worry that the 99 will be jealous
to see his love for the one who's gone astray?
And once they're all gathered together, the 100,
where will the Shepherd lead them?
And will another, or more, go astray?
Matthew's verse will long outlast my sister's photo,
and the Lord's parable will still be told
long after my questions are forgotten.
Still, that one sheep may have something to teach us
about ourselves, our flock and the Shepherd who guides us.
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