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Evidence of a Beautiful Rescue

As my dear friends have prepared their classrooms and lessons for the first week of school, I have been poring over children's Bible curriculum and preparing my own children to return to school. As it turns out, I should have been preparing my heart. No matter how right or good change is, it is still hard. My flesh is so resistant to change, in spite of how often change has come. If God had come down in a literal cloud and given me audible directions Himself, I could not be more confident that I am where I am meant to be. Nevertheless, seeing that school swing back into motion without me left me reeling a bit.

{Why do I think the world revolves around me??}

"Wait a minute."

"What's going on here?" 

"Who in the world am I?" 

"How does this even work?"

For longer than I can possibly remember, I have either been a student or a teacher. To be transparent and more vulnerable than I prefer - I admit this transition from the public school system to the ministry has left me more than a little undone. This morning, though, I saw a sight in my bathroom mirror that sealed this deal in my heart one more time. A little boy I never dared dream I would know had his head thrown back, laughing at his silly mama who was dancing to praise music while she put her makeup on. 

He just thought we were getting ready: he with his toothbrush and I with my music. 

He knows nothing of the dark days that came before he did. He remained blissfully unaware all these months of his little life when his mama couldn't quite find her way, but put on a good game face anyway. I went through all the motions, made sure everyone else's needs were met, and did just what I had to do to keep all the plates spinning in the air. Every morning, I faced the reality that I was not using the gifts God had given me, but was instead spinning my wheels trying to do a job that just wasn't meant for me anymore. (Those words are so hard on my prideful heart to even type.) I do not give up easily, so I held on. I ignored every warning sign and kept going, determined to do things my way, in my time.

If you've ever held onto anything longer than you should have, you might know how that went. #notwell

Where my boy saw his normal in the mirror, I saw evidence of a beautiful rescue.

We discussed the Parable of the Lost Sheep in our women's study this week. As I studied and prepared, I was so captivated. The more I dug, the more I learned about sheep and their tendencies, the more known and seen I felt. It's no secret I'm a girl who loves words. The way the Bible is crafted together so *perfectly* is an indescribable gift to me. When Jesus taught using parables, He wasn't a teacher flying by the seat of His pants, looking around the room trying to determine what example He could use to get His students' attention. God in flesh, He knew their motives, their purposes, their passions. He used the common to teach the holy. He met them where they were and used what they knew to impart to them wisdom they could not have fathomed otherwise. He knew these people and these people knew some sheep. 


When the Pharisees and the tax collectors had their noses turned, shunning the folks they proclaimed imperfect, the Savior knew their motives. He saw their sin. He was well aware of his audience. He pulled no punches and asked them such a simple question. What would a shepherd do if one of his flock wandered away? Well, he'd leave the ninety-nine to rescue the one. Of course he would. That's what shepherds do. Lone sheep don't live. They fall prey to disease, attack, even death. They follow after other wandering sheep and soon find themselves further from home than they ever meant to wander. 

Even the lowly shepherds, the ones too weak and unqualified for a more strenuous assignment, know sheep like that have to be carried back to the flock if ever they will survive. Moreover, the flock will be missing an integral part without that sheep. Jesus was trying to get these prideful people to see that the folks right beside them were not "less than" in any way; on the contrary, they were "essential to" the flock.

I beat myself up and wonder why I ever lose my way. Once a part of the flock, always a part of the flock. There's no escaping the shepherd. I wander and I stray. He comes after me again. When I'm back in the midst of the flock where I belong, surrounded by the ones who love me and follow the Shepherd alongside me, when I find myself doing the job that was always mine to do, it's easy to wonder why I ever wandered in the first place. Here where I'm safe, He shows me I'm "essential to" whereas when I am hiding and alone, I always feel "less than" instead.

I forget who I am: a sheep. Sheep really aren't all that smart and they have virtually no sense of direction. The Lord knows that. Christ alone is my Shepherd. He alone can guide me. I have no way of knowing where I should go if I do not listen for His voice. Just like a sheep, I'll become highly agitated when I find myself all alone; I startle and recoil in fear if pushed or prodded from the back. But when my Shepherd, the one I've learned to trust, love, and come to feel safest with, calls me by name from before me? I'll follow every time. He knows me and I know His voice. 

Every time, I'm lead to greener pastures than I could have ever wandered to.

This newest place He has lead me to might have different terrain from that which I came, but I can trust my Shepherd. He knows where He is leading and He knows just who I am. He alone can weigh my motives. He alone sees all my sin. He saw fit to lead me to this place anyway. He knows my motives, my passions, and my purposes today as surely as He did all those years ago when I finally laid my life down before Him and He gave me His instead. As surely as He sat with sinners and was never afraid to get dirty right alongside them, He's come to seek and to save the lost today. It doesn't matter why or how we strayed. He rejoices when we are found. He'll lay the broken on his shoulders and carry them all the way home.

Lord, let me forever be living proof that it is true; let my life be evidence of a beautiful Rescue.

"What man of you, having one hundred sheep, if he lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
Luke 15:4-7

Comments

  1. Emily, I could relate to you having trouble admitting you needed to leave a position. I cling to things too long sometimes, too, and I sure hate failure! Way to go—listening to your Shepherd’s call!

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