Mine Creek Baptist Church
“I have found my sheep which was lost!”
By Preacher Chris Rathbone
Several years ago my family decided to travel to the Linville Falls picnic area for an evening of grilling out and hiking to the overlooks to see the falls. My boys loved going to places where they can run, jump, and explore the woods. The evening had been wet with a strong storm which had passed through that afternoon but was gradually clearing. We were able to grill our hot dogs and enjoy our evening together in spite of rain dripping off of the trees. The weather cleared and we left the picnic area and traveled across the Blue Ridge Parkway to the visitors’ center to park and then began walking the trail to the overlooks.
There were only a couple of other vehicles in the parking lot. I guess the earlier rain had kept most people away that evening. There was a small group of people that walked passed us as we were getting ready to start across the bridge and continue out the trail. We had only been walking for a minute or two when we heard someone franticly calling out a name. Being parents, I and Michelle both knew by the way the woman was screaming out the name what was going on. A mother had been separated from her child and was searching desperately for him. We immediately turned back and started toward the voice and saw her running across the bridge toward us.
She told us that she thought the boy had gone to the restroom and had been waiting for him but he never came out. You can imagine what must have been going through her mind. Here was a ten year old boy in the woods by himself close to a river and high cliffs all around, not to mention thinking that there could have been someone who took him. As a parent, I could tell by the look on her face with the tears flowing down her cheeks how distraught and helpless she felt. I asked the boy’s name, age, and a description of what he was wearing. I told her to go back where he was supposed to be and we would search along the trail. While we were searching, we could hear the mother’s voice screaming and calling out in anguish the boy’s name, hoping and praying for a response. I whispered a prayer, “Lord, please help us find this boy!”
We walked out the trail, keeping my own boys close, and I began to call out the child’s name. Thankfully, in just a few minutes, I saw a young boy peering around a bush beside the trail that matched the description the mother had given. Though I knew his name, he was a little reluctant to respond to a stranger’s voice. I introduced myself and my family and told him his mom was searching for him. A look of relief came across his face. As we came across the top of a hill where I thought his mom could hear me, I cried out loudly, “We found him!” She immediately came running and the boy ran to his mom and what a wonderful reunion we witnessed. It was such a blessing to see them both together, both with tears flowing down their faces, so relieved to be together. My wife was holding back tears and I was holding back from shouting! The boy had simply taken the wrong trail.
Through this experience, the Lord reminded me of a parable that He gave in the scriptures. In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus spoke of a how that if anyone had a hundred sheep and one is lost, that man would leave the 99 and search in the wilderness until he finds the lost sheep. When he finds that lost sheep, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he returns home, he even calls his neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost”. Jesus teaches in verse 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.”
Friend, if you are lost without Jesus, if you are on the wrong trail in life, I want you to know that He is searching for you. Unlike that child who was reluctant to respond to a stranger’s voice, when you hear Jesus calling, you will immediately recognize Him. My plea is that you will respond to Jesus, repent of your sin, place your faith in what He has done on the cross, and follow Him as a sheep follows a shepherd. He is waiting for you to answer Him back in faith so that there will be joy in heaven when that announcement is made, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”