In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who has 100 sheep. Somehow one gets lost, and the farmer is faced with a dilemma.
What does he do?
The obvious answer, it seems, is to leave the 99 and search the land over until the stray is found.
It seems like shady math to me, but I’m not telling the story.
That lost sheep is pretty darn lucky.
But I wonder about the 99. What keeps them in the fold? How is it that they don’t wander?
Jesus never addresses this. It’s obviously not the point of his story. It’s all about finding the lost sheep.
I’ve always assumed that the 99 had played their cards right. They must have had their act together. It’s to their credit that they hadn’t strayed.
But is it?
Some of us stay in the fold more out of fear than virtue. We aren’t convinced that if we venture out of the safety zones of life that there’s enough love in the Father’s heart to come find us if we happen to get lost.
Fear becomes the fence that pens us in.
There’s something to say for those who dare to risk, to live life fully.
Being secure in the Father’s love and grace provides us the courage to fully express ourselves. We can leave the confines of the familiar and predictable and discover life beyond.
Sometimes we get lost.
We’ll need a shepherd to search and find us.
Jesus is clear on this point. He will do just that.
And it’s the lost sheep who gets the party.