Wednesday, September 19, 2007
My mom has many stories about me when I was little. Most parents do. As I have heard them, some more than others, my mind has warped stories with brief memories and infused them into a hybrid of what I heard and what I could remember. One particular story that I seem to remember whenever a topic near to it comes up, is about sheep and driving.
When I was young, probably two or three, but no older than four, I must have been obsessed with sheep. Perhaps it was just that I was at the age where I was able to point at things and give them names, and sheep was just one of them I had learned that week. Needless to say, my mom has commented (more than once) on a particular drive through the countryside of England, in the "lellow" car. I must have sheep in one of the fields, and in one of those young, excited voices, I screamed " Sheeeeeep! Mummy, sheeeeep!" Apparently I must have scared her sufficiently enough to retell the story, and therefore have it firmly placed in my memory. Little Leya sitting on cushions in the passenger seat of an old "lellow" car screaming at the sheep as we passed by.
Somewhere in my younger Christian years, mid-high school I would guess, I grew fascinated with the idea that we, human beings, are continually referred to as sheep. Dumb, in fact ridiculously stupid animals. I mean, they drown on their backs in the rain, they always want the grass elsewhere (usually on the other side of the fence) even if the grass is better where they are, and they are always prone to wander. They need to be watched over constantly. They cannot defend themselves. And we are referred to as sheep... I can see the resemblance. When Jesus entered the picture (on Earth, that is), he talked some about sheep, and about shepherding. He was after all, referred to as the good shepherd, so it would make sense... even though he was a carpenter by trade... but I digress. One of my favorite parables is about the lost sheep (the beginning of Luke 15). Jesus explains that if one sheep out of a hundred sheep is lost, a good shepherd will leave the 99 to find the one missing one. What's worse leaving one dumb animal by itself or leaving 99 for the sake of the one that probably wandered off? This parable used to confuse me. Why on earth would you put the 99 sheep in danger, for one? You have 99 more! One sheep isn't going to make a huge difference on the amount of wool you're going to get at sheering time. I don't think I ever piped up about my questions in bible study when we talked about this, so it took time for me to realize the significance of it all. Apparently shepherds know their sheep... by name, even. If one goes missing, it's akin to one of my kids at day camp missing. 99 sheep probably aren't going to bolt and their's strength in numbers, even if they aren't the smartest and well equipped animals, but one sheep by itself can get seriously lost and hurt without someone watching over it. Ends started to meet and I was left with the understanding that no matter the number of sheep, or anything special to us, if we care enough about it, we are going to seek out the lost or missing. More over God is going to seek out the lost or missing, not because He isn't concerned about the rest, but because he cares that much about me, or He cares that much about the individual. There are more than 6 billion people roaming this world and He knows us by name, and He cares enough to seek us out.
I don't think I will fully understand the reality of God's compassion.