THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 28, 2008
Jon and I decided that we wanted to barbecue the Saturday prior to Memorial weekend, so that afternoon I ran to pick up the groceries we would need. I noticed that the car was low on gas, so thought I'd go ahead and fill up before getting the food items. I was sitting at the stop light in front of the turn to the gas station, and reached over to get my bankcard out of my purse. It wasn't in my wallet! So when I pulled up in front of the pumps, I searched through my purse and the card was no where to be found. I looked in my checkbook and the last time I had used it was the Monday before, when I'd gotten gas for our lawn mower. I was driving our other car at that time, so called my husband and asked if he'd go out to see if perhaps I'd left or dropped the card there. Nope! When I got back home, I went through the pockets of all the clothes I'd worn the previous week, although I had already washed them and thought that the card probably would have fallen out in the washer or dryer. I found the receipt for the gas on our kitchen counter, but no card. Jon called the gas station where I'd bought it, to see if perhaps I had dropped it and someone had found it and turned it in. No! We had looked everywhere we could think of. I was fighting down panic and fervently praying this whole time! I had worked in banking for sixteen years, and knew what could happen when someone's bankcard got into the wrong hands. I didn't feel like it had been stolen because everything else was in my wallet, but thought perhaps I had put it in my pocket when I was filling the mower gas container, and it had fallen out and someone had picked it up. I knew that someone could wipe our account out very quickly. I was getting ready to call the 24 hour bank phone line to report the card as lost/stolen so that it would be closed. The thought came to check my jacket pockets. I thought, "No, it was warm all week and I don't remember wearing my jacket." But as a last resort, decided to look anyway. First pocket; no card. Second pocket; there was my bankcard!! Immediately I felt an overwhelming feeling of relief and thankfulness.
I was thinking about this and how upset I was over losing such a small material thing. Sure it would have been a hassle to try to get everything cleared up and taken care of, if the card had of been found and used by someone. But it would have been something that could be dealt with. It was not life threatening nor would it have changed my life overall. It would have affected my husband and me for a short while, and would have been very aggravating and frustrating, but then it would have been over with.
When it comes to our money or material possessions, we can become very protective. And yes, we should be good stewards of what we have and care for it. But do we care more for our bank accounts, cars, homes, furnishings, etc. than we do for our own spiritual well-being, or the needs of others? We hear about health issues or hardships that someone is dealing with and think, "Oh that's so horrible, and so very sad! I'm so sorry they're having to go through that!" Then we go on our way and get wrapped up in our own little world, not doing anything to reach out to them. We may fleetingly feel a sense of compassion, then it goes away as we continue focusing on ourselves. We may have family members or friends or neighbors who don't have a relationship with Jesus, and we say a little prayer for them occasionally, if it's convenient or they happen to come to mind. Yes, we would like to see them give their lives to God, but don't really feel a deep, heartfelt urgency for them. We can even let our own spiritual lives suffer, but are so involved in daily life that we aren't really concerned.
Do we perhaps care more for our own selfish, personal needs than we do spiritual issues or the needs of others?
Luke 15:4-7 says, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
In the Bible, we are referred to as being sheep with Jesus being our shepherd. Just as a shepherd keeps watch over and cares for his sheep, Jesus does the same for us. If a shepherd has one of his sheep that strays away from the flock, he doesn't say, "Oh well, it will either find it's way back eventually or have to find a way to care for itself. I have other sheep, I don't need that one." No! The shepherd goes after the one that is missing. If it is hurt, he cleans and binds up the wounds and cares for it. If a wild animal has it cornered, the shepherd will do what's necessary to protect that sheep so he can return it back to safety. Each sheep has worth to the shepherd and he does what he has to, in order to insure their protection and safety. He makes sure they are fed and that their needs are met.
If a sheep herder cares that much for one sheep, and puts that much effort into their care; how much more does our Heavenly Shepherd watch over and care for us? Each one of us have worth to Him. He's not only interested in those who are already in the flock, but He goes after and pursues those who have wandered away and are lost. It is the desire of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, that no one perishes but that all come to repentance.
In Luke 15, Jesus is speaking to the disciples, and gives another parable in relationship to the above one. In verses 8-10 He says, "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Have you ever thought you had a certain amount of money in your wallet, then when you look, you can't find it? A while back, I had gone to the bank to make a deposit, and had gotten cash back. I had intended on putting some of it in my wallet, then give the rest to my husband. I had thought about doing that, and had thought that I had. Some time later, I went to pay for something and looked in my wallet and there was no cash. For a split second, my heart dropped. Then I saw the cash envelope from the bank in my purse and realized that I had never transferred the money to my wallet.
When Jon and I were dating, his parents had bought me a pair of pearl earrings our first Christmas together. A few months later on a Sunday, I had worn the earrings to church, then had spent the afternoon with Jon at his parent's house. I was getting ready to leave that evening, when Jon noticed that one of my earrings was missing. We looked everywhere! We had been sitting on the love seat and looked under it, behind it, beneath the cushions, all around the floor, etc. I hated the thought of telling his parents that I had lost one of the earrings they had given me. In fact, at that time (since I wasn't a daughter-in-law yet), I probably would have gone to the jewelry store and replaced it without ever telling them! I knew, without a doubt, that I had put both earrings in that morning when I was getting ready for church. And Jon and I both knew that I had both of them in earlier. I was praying and praying and praying that I would find it. The next morning, I got up and there in the middle of my bedroom floor lay the lost earring. I have no idea how it got there. I don't know if it had got caught on my clothing somehow and dropped or if God placed it there. But oh how I rejoiced when I found it!! The first thing I did was call Jon and tell him.
Whether it's money, jewelry, car keys, eye glasses, tool, pictures, or whatever it may be, that you misplace; you will search diligently for it until it's found. You don't just casually glance around hoping to see it; but you try to retrace your steps and remember where all you've been and what all you've done, in order to try and find that item. You may give it a rest for a time, in order to care for other things, but you persistently look until you find that which was lost.
In a parable, Jesus tells a story that we can identify with, in order to make a point. I think it's interesting that in this parable, Jesus paints a picture of a woman losing a coin. He uses a material object in order to make a spiritual point. He knew that missing money and diligently searching for it was something everyone could identify with. That's the picture that Jesus was trying to paint for his disciples in the parable of the lost coin. The woman in the story still had nine other coins in her possession, but yet she lit her lamps, swept her entire house and carefully searched every nook and cranny of her home until she had found the one that was missing. Then once she finds it, she is so excited and rejoices, and tells all her neighbors about it.
Jesus was trying to give His disciples (and us today) an example that we could all understand, about how He goes after those who have gone astray and are lost. He diligently searches and pursues them, until they are found and restored back to the fold. That shows the depth of love that He has for each and every one of us. Jesus never gives up on those who are lost.
Just as the Great Shepherd loves and cares for each of His sheep, may we each have that same care and consideration for one another. My prayer is that I won't be so consumed with my own personal life and all that entails, that I focus more on material things than I do spiritual. I don't want to be more concerned and care about a lost or misplaced bankcard or earring, than I do for those around me. This was a small incident in my life that occurred, and was seemingly insignificant, but it made me stop and think. I realized how I reacted to a misplaced bankcard, and it made me re-evaluate my reactions to the hurts and needs that surrounds me each day. May we each stop and consider where our heart and focus is, and if need be, get our priorities back where they should be.
The life of a sheep is a pretty easy one. Follow the shepherd to the good grass. Eat. Follow the shepherd home. Sleep. Try not to wander off too far. And if you do, cry out to the shepherd and wait for him to rescue you.
We seem to make our lives so much more complicated than that. We spend so much time working to pay for that car, to keep a good looking lawn, and to pay for gas to go see family as often as possible. Those aren't bad things to have. And it's worth the extra work to make our lives more pleasant.
But please try to remember that what God really wants of us is simply to follow Him like a sheep, and to "lie down in green pastures."
Mandarin Orange Cake
1 box yellow (or butter) cake mix
1 can mandarin oranges with juice
Combine cake mix, the juice from the mandarin oranges, and eggs in mixing bowl; beat for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add oranges and mix 1 minute. Pour batter into 2 round cake pans or a 9x13-inch pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes, depending on oven.
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
1 lg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 sm. can crushed pineapple, with juice
Combine Cool Whip, instant pudding mix and pineapple (with juice) in bowl. Spread over cooled cake.
My oldest nephew (who is just a few years younger than me) called me a few days ago. We were talking and he had another call beep in. He put me on hold, and next thing I knew his brother, who is just younger than him, was saying hello. Greg never answered, so I said hello back. I quickly figured it out that Greg had just connected Brian to our conversation, without telling him; but Brian didn't know that. When I said hello, he asked, "Who is this?" When I told him, he said that he was trying to call Greg but guessed he either dialed wrong, or thought perhaps I was calling at the same time and we got connected. He said that he would just hang up and try again. About that time Greg started laughing and I hurriedly told him not to hang up. Greg has a link button that he had pushed on his phone that had connected Brian to our conversation. The three of us had a nice visit.
We were getting ready to hang up, when Greg said that he had a funny story to tell us first. That afternoon he had gotten home from work and was out in his backyard, getting ready to add chlorine to his pool. He was walking across his yard and was looking over to the side admiring his flowers and garden, and thinking how nice they looked. Next thing he knew, he had walked right into the swimming pool; falling completed in! The only downer was, he hit his knee when he fell in and it was swollen and red. But he was laughing about it when he told us. I was thinking, "And you're how old?!"
Don't always take yourself too seriously; learn to laugh at yourself when you do those silly, stupid deeds.
Thank you so very much for reading our weekly newsletter.
May the blessings of God rest upon your life.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon