The Message (MSG)
16-17 Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
What have we done lately that was extra ordinary to reach the lost? I heard a most awesome sermon this weekend while visiting a church and something was said that just hit home…hard! Our mission is not done until ALL of the sheep are located. Wow! So that means a church should not stop inviting people when the space in the pews gets sparse? Um, we should still be asking friends to church every Sunday? We shouldn’t stop sharing our testimonies?
I think sometimes we as Christians get it in our heads that we are saved and now we go to church as usual and we hope someone finds all the lost sheep before Jesus comes. Let’s take a peek at the story of the lost sheep with a different eye. Now mind you this is only my idea, not to be thought as ultimate truth. The shepherd left the 99 (already saved) sheep to find the lost. What do you think those sheep were thinking while the shepherd was gone? “Man, hope they find him.” “What’s for dinner?” “Should we go help?” “What if the Shepard does not come back?”
There are a million responses to this one plot, however, if the 99 represent the saved in the church, shouldn’t we have been the ones seeking the lost? Just food for thought. Our job as Christians is not to stop until all are found. Don’t turn the church into a resort, let’s make them into healing and equipping stations. Let’s go search for the lost and let the Shepard do the healing. Let’s go out on every limb to bring people to know out Jesus.
A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.
Who is afraid of the big bad wolf? Lately I am because it seems to be me. Have you ever rolled out of bed looked in the mirror and just not felt quite yourself? Then no matter how hard you try you just cannot shake the ugliness off of you that you feel inside? The weight of everything that is happening around you is just making fangs appear were normal teeth once were. The hair on the back of your neck begins to permanently stand on end. You have this uncontrollable urge to growl even at the wind even if it’s not blowing. You long to just throw your head back and howl at the moon or the sun or the snow. You have this burning desire in your heart to do what is right but for some reason you just cannot put on the appearance of the sheep for anything. Well, I am having one of those valley walks right now and I feel like I am a wolf, not a sheep, trying to fit in where only the lambs should be allowed. How does one escape from this fairy tale and back into the grace of God?
Perhaps it starts with a good clean slate. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and they were forgotten the moment He died, why do we continue to fall into old habits as if God did nothing for us? Why do we continually beat ourselves up over things we cannot control and make us look ugly to the world? Surely we can choose to be the wolf when we wake up in the morning, then dress in the clothing of the lamb and walk out our front doors as if nothing was strange about our appearance or our actions during the day. Come on now, how easy is it to spot a wolf? A snarling, hair-raised, teeth-baring wolf when we are suppose to be a lamb? My last blog described a day in my life where I felt as if I was falling apart at the seams and all I wanted to do was choke the nearest chicken. I shared how I felt broken and alone. Well, that’s how the wolf senerio begins. One lonely lamb wandering around wondering how they were left behind by the herd. Feeling an urge to search for something more in their lives and coming up empty because they are searching for happiness in the wrong direction and get lost in the forest. Soon they trade in their wool for a covering of different fur and begin to run with the wrong pack leaving those around them confused at this new attitude they have when just yesterday they were leaping for joy and praising God!
Now here I stand a week after the blow up and I am still feeling “wolfish”. My daughter is graduating soon and costs for that are mounting. My car needed $156 in repairs today which leaves us very minimal money for the next week and 2 days until I get paid. Then there is news of more needed repairs such as a tie-rod and sway bar links. My taxes will not be coming because my husband did not file last year. I received medical bills for my husband where he tried to use my address and my insurance when we don’t even have family coverage anymore. All of these things plus the frustration of work, are piling up in my life and this wolf is just longing to over power the lamb and take charge on a daily basis. At work we have just been busy and trying to keep everyone following procedures and showing up for work is the recent struggle. I sometimes “over-care” about my job as it is the only thing I have done for the past 25 years and I take pride in running a good restaurant all of the time. I get so frustrated when procedures are not being followed properly. It’s hard to keep that ugly wolf at bay sometimes and the growling starts.
I long to be the lamb every day and in every situation, yet I know that I am only human in nature and developing the lamb like personality takes time, patience and perseverance on a daily basis. Sometimes it takes a minute by minute approach. Now, what to do when the wolf arrives on the scene and you want to maintain your lamb like composure? First of all breathe. Next close your eyes for like a second and find a song to sing in your mind. Change the channel so to speak to distract the wolf for a moment. He will never know what hit him when you start singing about God and praising the good things He does for you. If this does not hold the wolf back, the next step is to speak positive words into the atmosphere around you. Find something good to say. It might be hard at first but once the first word comes out the rest will come easier. If all of these fail, RUN! Find a secluded place to dwell and give it all to God as quickly as you can. For me at work, sometimes that means “howling” in the freezer. Take another deep breathe and repeat the steps until you have reduced that wolf to a puppy! Better yet, work at shedding the wolf fur the best you can so that all you have is lambs wool.
Becoming more and more like Jesus gets harder and every day this world gets a little darker. We as lambs of God are the only hope for a source of light in this world, how are we going to shine if we are covered up by the wolf clothing? We need to be in daily contact with our Shepherd so the wolf cannot not surprise attack us. We need to be fed by the at the Lord’s banquet with our enemies. We need to drink from the still waters. We must accept the oil being poured over us daily. We need to stay with other sheep and keep far away from the pitfalls and traps the wolf sets up for us daily. We must stay strong and learn to put on our full armor everyday. Yes I said everyday. Yes even when we think it is the heaviest thing or we are running low on time. Stop, read the Word and get armed! This is the only way to prevent the wolf hairs from appearing and keeps the fangs from growing in.