"What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4
Through the years God has shown me the truth of this passage over and over. It seems that for many years my heart was prone to wander greatly. To be completely honest, it can still be prone to do so. But recently I have been reflecting on the truth that God will “never leave nor forsake me". As I was thinking about this He brought a life changing event to my mind from years ago. Reflecting on this event in light of His continued faithfulness it helped me finally take this truth from my head to my heart.
At the age of 20 I found out I was pregnant. I hadn’t told anyone for I thought I might decide to abort. The day after I found out, I had an appointment with my pastor. I don’t even remember why I was meeting with him. During our meeting, for reasons only known to God, he came right out and asked me if I was pregnant. I had to tell him yes. I mean how can you lie to a pastor?
He shared his disappointment but he never made me feel ashamed. He also shared with me God’s willingness to forgive. Over the next few weeks this pastor would call me in order to see how I was, but I did my best to ignore the calls. He came by the house, but I pretended I wasn’t home. Then he showed up at my place of employment. He was relentless. He wasn’t going to leave me alone until I talked to him.
For months my pastor pursued this wandering sheep. He wanted to know if I was continuing to live in sin. He offered advice, support and a loving heart. He prayed for me and with me, even in those times when I really did not feel like praying or want him to pray.
When so many were ignoring and judging me, he modeled the love of Christ.
To this day I believe it is due to his persistence that I am walking with the Lord. Toward the end of my pregnancy I repented of my sin and rededicated my life to Christ. I left the path of destruction I was on and chose to follow God with my whole heart.
It was not easy, being single and pregnant. It was not easy thinking about a possible future of raising a child alone, but God through His amazing Grace and Mercy brought me a godly man that would become my husband when my son was only 11 months old.
God has often brought this mans faithfulness in modeling Christ to my mind when I am struggling to believe that God could really love me. Too often I believe that this failure, what ever failure I happen to be in the midst of at that moment, is when God is going to give up on me. But God reminds me that He will pursue me in an even greater way. He does not give up. He will leave the 99 sheep to pursue the one who is prone to wander.
Why does He continue to pursue me when I so easily wander from the flock? Because He loves me, forgives me, is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and He said that He will never forsake me. (Neh 9:17)
God also tells me,
"Be strong and courageous, and act ; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished. (1 Chron 28:20)
…for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," Heb 13:5b
"What do you think ? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying ? "If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.Matt 18:12-13
I am still prone to wander, at times, but my great Shepherd will always pursue me in order to bring me back to where I belong. I am so grateful for His love, patience and faithfulness to me.
You know as I think about this story now I also realize that perhaps God might want to use me in someone’s life as God used this pastor in mine. Who do I know in my life that could use someone to pursue them and show then the love, grace and mercy of the Great Shepherd.
Oh Father how thankful I am for the examples you have given me to remind me that You will never leave or forsake me. I am Yours and You will pursue me just as You pursue all Your sheep. Whether they are lost or wandering, they are Yours and nothing will pluck them from your hands. Keep my heart close to Yours, help me to be obedient and hear Your voice. Do what is necessary in order to keep my heart from wandering from Your perfect will. Help me to be willing to go out of my way to pursue those that you place in my path. Help me to show them your grace and mercy. Amen.