Reading through the book of Numbers, I got caught up in the story (ch. 13) of the 1st time the Israelites were about to enter the promised land. They were there, on the cusp of entering the place God had told them He would give them. He had prepared them for this...the promised land. He directed Moses to send out spies (scouts) to check out the land and to report back. Moses chose 12 men and sent them out to with instructions to report on the land (the trees, food sources, layout, etc) and the people. He wasn't asking for an assessment on what he thought their chances were, just a report on the DETAILS of what they saw.
These 12 men spent 40 days spying out the lay of the land. They came
back and the Israelites gathered to hear their report. Ten men praised
the land but focused on the fact that they saw GIANTS! Tall men of big
build who would eat the nation of Israel alive. They told the people
that the land would devour them and it was hopeless. Despite the fact
that God said he was giving them this land, the 10 spies told stories
that made the Israelites knees turn to jelly. However, 2 spies went
counter to this narrative. Joshua and Caleb spoke truth. they said,
Yes there are giants there but we can do this. God is giving us the
land, let's take it.
No one else was wanting to take them up on this. The people doubted God
and wanted to turn back. The Lord told Moses that because of this,
they would wander around until this generation died off and that it
would be their descendents who inherited the land. All except Joshua
and Caleb who gave the true report and had the faith that God would do
what He said he would do. It took 40 years, but the people did end up
taking the land after the previous generation passed.
I read that story and I think about God's call on my life. There have
been times that I have faced giants. Obstacles that would seem to say I
should not pass. Yet I knew God called and I had to precede.
When I was living in East Tennessee, I had a good job and though we were
not well off, we were making ends meet. I was moving up the ladder at
work and new opportunities were presenting themselves. However, my wife
and I felt the Lord calling us to Canada. It was not an easy choice.
We spent months in prayer. We wrestled with the decision and wanted to
make sure God was calling us to make it. There came a point where we
knew, yes this was the direction God was calling us in.
That did not go down easy with everyone. I remember being counseled by
some to turn back from this decision. I was leaving a "good job and a
home" to go to a place where we had neither. To top it off, we felt the
Lord calling Sarah to go 3 months ahead of me. She did and as soon as
she departed, the Lord opened new doors for both of us. Sarah was able
to present her testimony in ways she had never had before. I had an
opportunity to begin lay counseling training without distractions.
Later, when we reunited in Canada, we had what looked like many giants
before us. I was unemployed for the first 2 years as I sought landed
immigrant status. God saw us through this time and opened the door for
me to find work with the Salvation Army in Smithers. I began running
the local food bank part time and did that for nearly 4 years while my
wife worked part time at the local Christian bookstore. There came a
point where I needed full time work as Sarah was pregnant with our
second child. Just as I thought I would need to look elsewhere for
employment, God orchestrated events in a way that I was promoted to full
time work at the exact moment Sarah had to stop working.
Three years later and he has expanded our ministry even more as we both became soldiers in the Salvation Army.
It would have been easy to say, Here there be Giants and to turn back
from obvious obstacles. Instead, we persevered and have seen God expand
our family, our calling, our ministry outreach and our love for Him and
If God has called you, then press forward despite the giants! Let Him take you into the place He has called you to be.
I love this parable. Jesus follows it up with one about a lost coin and the story of the prodigal son. All stories about the rejoicing that goes on when the lost (sheep, coin, son) were found again. Stories about the rejoicing when a sinner repents.
Yet to me, I see a story of so much more. Especially in this parable of the lost sheep. I see a man who left the 99 who were safe and sound, and went out into the night looking for one in danger. He put himself in harm's way to find that one lost sheep. He did not know what he would encounter, but out into the night he went: searching, seeking, with love and care for the sheep in his heart, hoping to find the straggler before harm came upon him. When He did, he rejoiced! The "lost" was found. The "dead" was alive again!
A great picture of Jesus. Jesus who leaves the 99 safe, sound and secure in Him and goes out into the night looking for the lost, the sick, the depressed, the disappointed, the wounded and the enslaved. He not only seeks out the sinner but the disenfranchised, the ones hurt by other believers, the unloved and the bitter.; those who have known safety within His flock, but whose confusion and pain has led them off the path. He pursues the brokenhearted, the lonely and even those whose choices put them where they are today. He doesn't give up, He doesn't surrender.
He calls us to do the same.
We are surrounded by "lost sheep." The streets are filled with them. We cross their path at work, shopping and walking downtown. We see them and yet we do not always look with the eyes of Jesus. Jesus looked with love. He saw what they could be and not what they were.
He pointed them to the Father and he called them with love.
He calls us to do the same.
We are called to leave the safety and security of this world and to seek out the lost sheep, pointing them to the life eternal.
In Love, let us seek out those who are hurting and walk with them, sharing not just in word but in action and deed as well.
Let's be seekers. Seekers of the Lost Sheep.