Thursday, November 18, 2004

Leaving The 99

The shepherd came back to his land after a good day in town, buying and selling and laughing at the marketplace. He looked all over for the boy, a hired hand, one of his cousin's boys, who'd been left to watch over the sheep for the duration of the trip. He knew "sheep-sitting" wasn't all that much fun to a young man, but it would pay well, and the sheep practically took care of themselves as long as they didn't wander off. He spotted the teen over by the barn, asleep on a couple of bales of hay. Everything looked fine, no big deal.

Walking over to him, waking him up, looking to get a report on what had been happening in the wonderful world of sheepdom. The boy mumbled something about losing a sheep, just one, over by the water hole. He wasn't sure where the lamb wondered off, but that he wanted to make sure the other sheep were okay. He'd walked them back to the pastures by the barns, counting them to make sure only one had been lost. Ninety-nine were here, with one missing. He was really really sorry, but he'd kept that others from leaving, right?

The shepherd was frantic - resolved and under control, but anxiously counting all the remaining sheep, trying to place which of the lambs had bounded off. All of them were there, except... yes, the big one, the lamb with a little extra energy, always getting in trouble for getting too far into the watering hole, or too far towards the cliff's edge over at the ravine. That one was a trouble-maker, but he'd always listened to the shepherd, always come back to the group, always found a way to make his master proud.

"Why didn't you go find that lost sheep, son?", he asked the boy, knowing the answer before it was offered.
"I didn't want to lose any more, and it was just one lamb, so I figured it wasn't as big of a deal as one of the rams or ewes over there."

"Son, the sheep will stay together pretty much - but if one wanders off, you've got to go find him. Go on - I understand, but next time you've got to stay on top of things, especially that one that jumped away." He paid the young man, who's head hung low and dejected before the shepherd.

"What are you going to do?" he asked the shepherd.
"I'm going to find that sheep."
"Do you want me to watch the 99?"
"Honestly, I think they'll be okay. They stay where they start chewing, and it takes alot for any single one to leave the flock that's standing still. No, I think they'll be fine - but I need to go find that one that's lost."

He turned from the young man, inwardly fuming but also understanding what the boy didn't: that the sheep would respond to his voice, that they knew who really loved them, that this one in particular would hear his voice and would hopefully come rejoin the flock.

He left the ninety-nine, and pressed into the wilderness to find the lost sheep. What the boy didn't understand is that a hired hand didn't really know the sheep and wasn't really known by them, that he didn't really care as much, didn't really have anything invested in the flock. And the owner, the shepherd, the father to this flock - he would give anything and everything to find that one lost sheep.


Blogger Me said...

Add this story onto the story of the prodigal son and you have the shepherd or the father running to the lost sheep to bring him home.. People have the idea of God that he is the hired help..

18/11/04 10:46 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

i've got a few stories like that - once in a buddy's driveway, looking thru the sunroof in my mom's car in a winter chill; another time, pulling off into a field with vicki coming back from the beach on #378, getting out and looking at the sky for a few minutes to see some falling stars. it's cool - hope little bit enjoys it :)

18/11/04 1:25 PM  

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