I’ve found few things more difficult to endure than the deviation of a childhood friend from the course that we both set out on. There was a time when we both walked in the same Light but at some tragic juncture, something changed. There is also the case of meeting a long gone companion of another who also has split and chosen to walk a separate path. And still, there are those sheep who although have never been exposed to the Shepherd’s voice would recognized it if He called.
There are instances when I wonder what exactly the Shepherd is doing to retrieve His single lost sheep. On the rare occasions in which I am not a "prodigal" sheep and I am instead praying for a lost friend, I cannot seem to find my place in the parable? Am I of the blessed ninety-nine who can be trusted to graze on their own? Or am I the lost sheep who has no business pleading for the Shepherd to go after His missing creation? For if I too am lost then my cries are far from His ear.
Or even still, am I the one who is supposed to go and seek out the lost member of my herd? As a servant of the Shepherd, it is important to recognize that I am always and simultaneously a member of all three parties: I have been entrusted to the church (the ninety-nine), I do frequently go astray (the lost sheep), and I am at times responsible for seeking out a missing member of my community. Yet I have neither the skills nor the tools required to reach out to the lost for I too have questions, doubts, and sins that distance me from the Shepherd. Even if I was so inclined to go out on my own to try and retrieve a lost member, I have been previously told that the sheep know His voice.
Yet again, as a servant I have come to the realization that although I was lost and found, I now have the luxury of pressing on with Christ as He seeks out His own. Yes, I now walk with Him in solitude as He calls my friend back to His flock! The joy for a servant lies not in simply finding and returning missing members of the church BUT in walking daily with Christ as He (not I) calls. We are together, alone and free to converse about MY sins, my doubts, and my concerns. So long as we are walking together I am protected from my lusts and I really can feel His closeness. We walk silently until I first raise my voice to Him. I ask, and then I listen. I confess and then He embraces. The mountains and the cliffs that we encounter together are the moments when He shows, or rather, proves His power to me.
The further the missing sheep lies, the longer our time together and the more exclusive time I have with my Shepherd.