This past Christmas, the Dallas family from our church gave us a wonderful gift of Noah’s Ark complete with hand-carved animals. The problem is that it is especially fascinating to children. We have had to glue poor Noah back together more than once. After one visit from our grandchildren, we saw that one of the sheep was missing from the set. We searched for that missing sheep high and low. We looked in the toy cabinet, between the cushions in the couch, in the spare bedroom, but still we couldn’t find the vagabond sheep. Things were not right. You just can’t have a single sheep going into the ark. Some time had passed and Sue moved the couch in the family room to sweep under it, and when she did, there was the missing sheep. We were very happy. We never gave up wishing we had that wandering sheep back and hoping we would find it. Every time we passed the set we thought about it. Things were just not the same without it being there.
It reminded me of what Jesus said about God’s love for lost sheep. My desire for a sheep carved from wood could hardly compare to God’s desire for his wandering sheep, the people he had created. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:4-6).