Luke 15:3-7 talks about the shepherd who leaves his flock of 99 sheep in order to search for one lost sheep, and we usually focus on the lost sheep, but what about the others who were left behind?
I imagine that out of those 100 sheep, there were probably three or four who were always right at the shepherd’s knees wherever he went. These were the sheep who thought, “Man, we’re not leaving you.” They knew what time the shepherd woke up in the morning, and if he woke up at 6:00 a.m. then at 5:59 those were the sheep nudging his arm. These were the sheep who would notice the moment the shepherd became alarmed and start bleating.
These are the sheep who are the diligent seekers. They not only know the Lord’s voice like most of the other sheep, but they also love being in his presence.
So when that one sheep wanders off, the shepherd goes out to search for it, and he leaves (momentarily) the sheep who are diligently seeking him. Have you ever noticed that, those of you who diligently seek God? Sometimes you wonder, “Where did he go? I was following him; I was close to him. I was feeling his presence, and now I can’t.”
How many times did Jesus leave his disciples to spend time with God or talk to someone who was socially outcast? He always found his disciples again, or they found him, but usually it was under circumstances that made them wonder, “What is he doing now?”
God is about his business, and his business is glorifying himself through the saving of his people. He’s going out after the lost sheep. As often as not, it happens in ways that even we who closely follow him don’t understand. These are the moments when our faith is stretched and refined, to continue trusting that, even when we don’t understand his actions or he seems to leave us, our shepherd is merciful and just.