“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” —Luke 15:4
There is a lot I love about the parable of the lost sheep, but perhaps my favorite aspect is that the shepherd goes to where the sheep is.
He doesn’t stay with the group, stand at the top of the hill, and yell down, “Hey! Come back! Come back over here! With us!” (like I am prone to do to my young kids when they run off in public). He doesn’t stall to deliberate why the sheep left. He doesn’t waste time worrying what dangers may lie in his journey to find the sheep or what the sheep will say when he gets there.
He just goes. He goes until he finds.
I think there may be a lesson here.
We all know someone who is feeling “lost.” And by lost I’m talking about more than just a change of beliefs. Any trial that leaves us feeling disoriented, that life isn’t turning out as expected, or feeling lonely can make us feel lost. If there is someone “lost” in our lives, it is not effective to stand atop our hillside and yell down, “Hey! Come back! Come back here with us!”
We may have to go down to where they are.
I don’t mean we have to put ourselves in dangerous situations physically. I mean we should try to go to where they are emotionally.
We should seek to understand what they are feeling. What is in their heart? What are their fears? What is their story? Are they feeling judged? Misunderstood? Unloved? Unheard? Lonely?
Among the greatest gifts one person can offer to another in this life are those of genuine love, attentive listening, and hearing another’s story without judging the person.
In fact, these are among some of the greatest gifts Christ offers to us. He is uniquely able to offer us perfect empathy since He has actually experienced all of our emotions and fears Himself. While we can’t offer perfect understanding as Christ can, we can become Christlike as we try to emulate this empathy He offers to us.