Oft I’ve wondered why we go through so many dry times as Christians. I’m not talking about the times when we have unconfessed sin in our lives, or are in a place distant from God because of our own wrongdoing or negligence. I’m concerned with the times in our lives when we are doing everything right, obeying the Lord, studying His word and praying fervently. The times when we are longing to hear from heaven but yet feel so lonely without His manifested presence everyday. We know that God is omnipresent and would never leave us nor forsake us and that our salvation is eternal, but there’s a fellowship with Him in which we at times are just yearning for a cool breeze from heaven’s shore. We can feel so alone, dry and thirsty during these times. This scripture has been on my heart a lot lately, and I’ve been pondering on it for some time:
3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Luke 15 (KJV)
Such a common scripture that we all have heard many times and one that we can draw many lessons from. No doubt we see the forgiveness of God and His desire for us to be with Him. All hundred sheep belonged to the shepherd, just as we that are saved by God’s grace belong to the Lord. I have been the lost sheep many times in my life when I have gotten out of God’s will and ended up in a mess that only God could get me out of. He has restored me each time, praise God! My thought today is with the ninety-nine obedient sheep. They are exactly where the shepherd wants them, doing no wrong, yet they have to go without the shepherd for a period of time while he searches for the lost one. We can spiritually be right in the center of God’s will, studying, praying and living for Him, but not feel His presence with us daily. He is still there, omnipresent, but we can’t see or hear Him. These sheep were left alone for a time and they could not see or hear their shepherd either. They were no doubt lonely and longed for their shepherd to feed them and comfort them. They probably were bleating away at the surrounding wilderness just crying for a sound from their shepherd. We should likewise be praying and desiring God to manifest Himself in our lives daily.
I’ve heard that sheep are not very smart (and we aren’t either), but I’m sure that they are familiar with other members of their flock. Some of the sheep were probably wondering what happened to the sheep that always ate beside them or walked closest to them as they grazed. In our churches, “flocks”, we should likewise be aware of those around us. We should concern ourselves with the well-being of our brothers and sisters. I’m not justifying gossip or meddling in other people’s business, we have scripture that proves that is wrong. We do not need to know the details of our sister’s situation, we can pray just the same because God knows the details. Pray for one another! It may be that the Lord has us personally in a spiritual wilderness but that He is much at work in someone else’s life, trying to get their attention and restore them to Himself. Do you care enough for your sister’s that you would notice if one of them was “missing” in a service? I pray that we all would have that burden for one another.
It is also worth mentioning that no doubt the shepherd would have made provision for the sheep while he was away. He loved these sheep and would not have left them in an overly vulnerable place of imminent danger. He may have found a natural shelter of sorts in the wilderness where they would be safest while he was away. The shepherd would have most definitely known exactly where he left his sheep so that he could return to them once the lost sheep was found. Our Saviour is always looking out for us as His children. The Bible says that He will never leave us nor forsake us so we can be assured that He is always aware of our situation. We are also promised that He will always provide our needs (not wants) so we always have the comfort of knowing that He will always allow provision for us just as the shepherd does his sheep. Praise God!
When asking my wonderful pastor about this issue, he informed me that sometimes shepherds would notice when one of the obedient sheep was longing for his attention and he would rest his staff on their back as they grazed. He would leave it there long enough that it would thrill the sheep’s heart that the shepherd was giving it the attention it so longed for. How amazing this is for us as well when our Shepherd gives us personal attention and love that we have been yearning for. If we had not been without it for this period of time, we wouldn’t rejoice when we finally received it. Praise the Lord that he always thrills our hearts with His presence when we need it most!