Most of us have heard many times the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15. “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has 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?” The story is of course about how much God loves us. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to find us, his lost sheep, put us on his shoulders and bring us home.
It is one of the more touching of Jesus’ parables and is followed shortly after by perhaps the best known parable of God’s love–the prodigal son.
And while it one of my favorite parables and always has been, I had something happen to me recently that made me feel what that would be like, even though it’s from a human standpoint. First, the back story.
I will admit that I am somewhat of a high-maintenance drama queen. I am highly emotional and tend to act from my emotions and think about it later. I wear my heart on my sleeve and get hurt easily. A couple of months ago, I got it in my head that there were too many of my Facebook friends who wouldn’t care if I wasn’t friends with them, that they wouldn’t miss me if I was gone. So I made myself gone. Thumbing my nose at everyone who revels in how many friends they have on Facebook, I unfriended perhaps twenty people. A few of those were people I had never been very good friends with. But a number of them were people I cared about deeply; a couple of them were friends with whom I would have said I would always be friends. Click. Gone.
Yes, it sounds rather petty and high school-ish, doesn’t it? It was. But that’s how I felt at the time. I realize that people drift apart, particularly long-distance friendships or friendships maintained through electronic means, and especially when effort isn’t taken to keep the relationships strong. But even though that might be the adult reality, inside there was still a high school girl who felt uninvited to the party.
The holidays came and went, and it became a new year. I missed a couple of my friends, but even though I had come to realize how immature my behavior had been, I was too embarrassed to contact any of my friends and say, “Hey, how’s it going? So, about this Facebook thing…”
Then one of my friends sent me a message on Facebook. He said simply, “Hey Cher, how’d I get dropped as a friend?” with a little sad face, and he sent me a friend request. I of course accepted the friend request and then explained to him what had happened.
I looked at his profile to see what I had missed while I was out there pouting. He writes some of the most profound things about the Christian faith and God’s love for his people, and reading his posts is better than reading any devotional or commentary I know of. While I was looking at his profile, I noticed his friend count. More than 2,400.
Out of 2,400 friends, he had missed me. He sought me out and re-established the friendship. He had reached out to this lost, petulant sheep and brought her home. He had become Christ with skin on. And I felt the power and the beauty of the parable of the lost sheep.
If I could convince you of one thing, this would be it. God loves you beyond imagining. His love for you is boundless. He has gone to extraordinary lengths to find you and bring you home. To be with him. Forever.