An incident, two actually, happened in the Salvation Army Opportunity Shop the other day. I was walking between the racks of pre-loved clothing, and saw a little two-year-old boy, crying and rushing through the aisles. Earlier, I’d noticed him in his mother’s arms, and now, he couldn’t find her!
I offered my hand, but he took off in the opposite direction. I thought his mother might be up that way, so followed him, and there she was in the distance, coming towards us. She said nothing to me, but he ran to her and I went back to my shopping.
But not for long. Another child, a girl about four years of age, hurried past me; she was weeping miserably. I asked, ‘Are you looking for your Mummy?’ but she kept crying. Soon her mother appeared around a rack of children’s clothing and said to me, ‘I was just about to start panicking!’ She turned to her daughter, ‘You were supposed to stay over there and play with the toys!’ She looked at me with a sigh. It can happen so quickly.
I said, ‘My daughter was lost in a store once. I was so relieved to find her! Afterwards, I told her, “If you’re ever lost in a shop, just stand still. If you’re looking for me, I’m sure to be looking for you!”‘
I hope this encouraged the young mother, who smiled and said to her child, ‘Say thank you to the kind lady’. The little girl stared at me, a bit overwhelmed, I suppose, and relieved to be ‘found’. It’s so scary for a lost child.
I didn’t mention what else I’d told my perceptive young daughter all those years ago. ‘It’s just like Jesus’, I explained to her. ‘He’s always looking for us if we’re lost. If we keep still, and wait, He’ll find us’. She probably remembers that advice to this very day!
I think you can guess what these incidents brought to my mind? Yes, it’s the story Jesus told about the owner of one hundred sheep. He counted them in their pen, and was dismayed to discover there was one missing! So he left the ninety-nine safe sheep, and went out to search for the lost one until he found it!
Jesus explained to his listeners that he was their Good Shepherd, so good that he would soon give his life for them because he wanted them all to live with him in heaven forever. He’s our Good Shepherd too, and wants to find every lost ‘sheep’ who is longing for a safe place. He’s always searching for them.
Both of those children were disoriented and heading away from their parent! Is this what we sometimes do when God’s wanting to find us? Have we already tried other comforts, or remedies for our troubles, instead of him? Or perhaps we’ve forgotten that we really belong with him in the safe ‘sheep-pen?’ And some people don’t even know there is a Good Shepherd who wants to bring them to safety, and who loves them dearly.
One time, long ago, God had a special message for his people when they were in danger, and Moses, the shepherd who’d been given the responsibility for them, spoke these words:
Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today … Then he added, The Lord will fight for you, and all you have to do is keep still ~ Exodus 14:13-14 ~ The Good News Translation.
God did it! He performed a miracle! And he has more miracles he wants to do.