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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus says,

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Nearly midnight. On this cold winter's night I've just returned from a weekly run of picking up newspaper rack money for the C-U News-Gazette. My van thermometer read 13 degrees. Tonight the world is dark and frigid.

I dropped a few quarters along the way. So tempting just to leave them there on the ground. But I'm sure the News-Gazette would see those quarters about the same way God sees that lost sheep. So I picked them up, shivering, longing for someplace warm to rest.

I don't think the quarters "cared" whether or not I picked them up. Cold hard cash doesn't need to be kept warm, fed and loved. But a lost sheep would, and I would.

I thought about men and women who sleep outside most of the time. I stepped into a hospital entrance to empty one rack. The heat poured out of a ceiling duct. I wanted to curl up in the corner, just get warm, and sleep until spring. I thought if I were homeless this is where I'd like to spend the night. I think that the police might not treat me like the lost sheep, though, and send me packing.

Steve Sjogren, preaching at the Cincinnati Vineyard, once talked about training himself to pick up lost pennies by thinking of God's attitude toward lost souls. The penny is such a tiny coin, with tiny value, not worth much of anything. I tend to see others too much like that and not enough the way God does them, as his children, created by him, infused with great value from the moment of their birth.

No wonder he goes to such trouble to restore each of us to the place he made for us in the first place. We are not coins, not hard, cold cash ... we're living, breathing, loving boys and girls and he wants us to know how much he respects us. How much we should respect ourselves and each other. Even the one who runs away and is lost most of the time. Especially that one.

Lord, you alone provide a place for rest, a safe haven for all the lost sheep. When I find myself lost, Lord, I know you will come looking for me. And you will find me.

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