I was no Mary Sunshine, Mary Poppins or merry anything. Crabby pants, possibly. Grumpy gills, likely. “Your Lugubrious-ness”, definitely. I knew by the drag on my body as I got out of bed; It was like gravity had doubled but only where I stood. And there was this anxiety and malcontent grumbling in the background. This was me a few days ago. [Deep sigh] Anyone else felt feel like this lately? Maybe it’s the shelter-in-place stress or isolation frustration from these past few Covid months. Maybe it’s just a build-up of many things. Whatever the cause, I have been fighting a feeling of being off-course. I applied the usual “remedies.” I took a long walk; I took an even longer nap and ate some sugar-laced something-or-others. Some helped. Some didn’t. These are choices I often make but that day, I needed to choose something bigger. Someone bigger. I needed a Shephard for the lost lamb I felt I had become. As I sit here today, an old Sunday School story comes to mind. Get out your flannel boards and your Jesus-in-a-bathrobe cut-outs for this one, people; It’s gonna be cool. Jesus tells this story in Matthew 18, asking that if a man has a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders off, wouldn’t the shepherd leave his other ninety-nine, safe and sound on the hill, to go find this little one that is lost? This is a truth for me: When I wander away, God cares and comes searching.
The Bible is full of beautiful promises God makes and means. I have learned to trust them. In whatever wilderness we find ourselves, God calls out, “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13) I imagine this Shephard standing with hand stretched out, beckoning me to reach out and grab hold. In this picture, I am reminded of how many times God has guarded and guided me before. In your own life, you know who you can trust by how people have shown up and suited up for you in the past. It’s the same with God; He is the King of Show-Up and Suit-Up! (Hmm…that sounds awkward but I’m going with it!) That trust that God has earned throughout my life is what leads me back. I once saw a picture of a middle-eastern shepherd. Instead of herding his flock from the back, the shepherd called to his flock, lead the way and his flock following him down the hillside. These sheep, from the time they were lambs, have known that the voice of their shepherd can be trusted to lead them home to comfort. Now, back to the flannel board story. Jesus saying, “And if he finds it (his lost lamb), I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” (Matthew 18:13) Jesus is describing this as a moment of joy for God! God is happy!
I used to think that if God had to come find me, gone astray again, He had to be irritated or frustrated with me. Maybe, He pitied me because I couldn’t make it back on my own. Here, Jesus is saying there is a big smile on my God’s face when He carries home this one that was lost and now is found. Who knew this experience of being lost and alone had the potential, if I let it, to bless both me and my God! Tears come to my eyes when I think that you and I are only a call away from leaving the wilderness behind. Whatever it is that has you feeling apart from your Shepherd, God’s hand is only a call away. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go make a call. Shalom, Namra P.