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TITLE: The Lost Sheep
By Jennifer Waddell

We, like sheep, have gone astray.
This is for the hopeless one who thinks that God has abandoned them, or thinks that they have done something so bad that they are beyond forgiveness. This is also for the complacent Christian who has forgotten where Jesus found them.
It was 3am when she pounded on His door. She had been reluctant to wake him at this hour, but she was so frightened. She paused only a moment before she frantically pounded again. Suddenly, the door opened and there He stood, wearing flannel pajamas, wiping the sleep from His eyes.

“Oh, Master, I’m so sorry to wake you, but it’s Peter. I’m afraid we can’t find him.” She began to cry as she said, “I think he’s run off for good this time. Oh, what am I going to do?”

He cupped her tear streaked face in His hands and said in a calming voice, “Sarah, don’t worry. We’ll get him back.” She began to relax as she looked into the Master’s eyes. He really loves us, she thought. “Have you checked with Samuel? I know they were close at one time.”

“Yes, he was supposed to be with Samuel this weekend. At least, that’s what he told me.” She began to tear up again. “Samuel has been such a good influence on Peter, I didn’t even question him. I just watched him walk away.” She finished with a distant look in her eyes, as she remembered.

“I’m going to go get dressed,” The Master said. “Go to the home of Elizabeth and Tobias. They will wait with you.” Sarah nodded and turned to go. “The Lord’s favor is with you, Sarah. Your son will soon be home again.”

She turned toward the Master and mustered up all the courage she had. “Thank you, my Master. Thank you so much.”

At the home of Elizabeth and Tobias, Sarah sipped hot tea to keep herself occupied as she tried not to imagine where her son had gone. Elizabeth held her friend, cried with her, and prayed with her. She did what she could, but in the end, they had to trust the Master.

After getting dressed, the Master walked to Samuel’s house. He knocked only once before the door was opened by a nervous looking Samuel.

“Were you expecting me?” Samuel nodded. “You look tired”

“Haven’t slept much” Samuel answered, looking at the floor.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” the Master asked.

Samuel sank into a nearby chair. “It’s Peter” his voice was barely above a whisper. The Master was silent, waiting patiently for Samuel to continue.

Samuel looked up into the Master’s face. “I tried to stop him! He wouldn’t listen to me. He never listens to anyone. I know I should have told Sarah, but I was afraid. Peter was so angry when he left. I wasn’t sure what he would do to me if I ratted him out.”

“Where do you think he is right now,” The Master’s voice was gentle.

“Well, I don’t know exactly where. He’s been hanging out with some kids from the city. There’s supposed to be a huge party going on all weekend. Peter begged me to go with him.

“Why didn’t you go?”

“I was scared,” Samuel whispered to the floor. “I was too scared to stand up to my friend, and now he could be dead, or worse. I will never forgive myself if anything happens to him.”

“It’s not your fault, Samuel,” The Master stooped down to the level of the sitting Samuel. “Do you hear me?”

“Yes, sir,” Samuel replied.

“I’m going to go. You get some sleep.”

The Master left and headed for the home of Elizabeth and Tobias. Sarah jumped out of her chair and flew to the door when she heard the knock. Letting the Master in, she hoped for the best.

“I know where he is and I’m going to bring him home,” the Master said. “Be still, Sarah. Peter will be back before the sun comes up.” He gave her a reassuring hug and was gone.

The Master got into His car, and as country roads turned into city streets, the night grew even darker. He pulled the car into an abandoned parking lot, shut off the engine, and got out. He glanced up at the only light in the lot. It was a sickening color of yellow as it flickered, trying desperately to stay lit.

He set off in the direction of a nearby alley. His footsteps echoed on the wet pavement. Rats scurried across His path as he made his way down the narrow passage littered with broken glass, newspapers, beer bottles, and unidentifiable sludge.

The Master stopped in front of the building at the end of the alley. The windows were boarded up, but there was a muffled thud, thud, thud of loud music coming from inside.

Without knocking, the Master opened the door. The stuffy air, rank with pot smoke, sex, and sweat hit him in the face, knocking Him back a little. His heart broke thinking that His beloved Peter was in here.

No one noticed Him as He made His way through the living room, trying not to step on anything or anyone. There were people in various states of undress lying on just about every available space.

Vulgar language was a cloud all around Him. He heard His name several times and winced. As he made his way down a long, dark hallway, carpeted with various articles of clothing and condom wrappers, someone bumped into Him. The young lady couldn’t have been more than 18-years-old, her jet black hair fell into her face as she looked up.

“Hey, sorry, man,” she said, her words coming out in a jumble. She looked into the Master’s eyes and a look of horror crossed her face. She ran through the house screaming, terrified. No one paid much attention to her. With all the drugs in her system, she was bound to flip out eventually. Everyone does. The Master tried to recall her name and couldn’t. He had never known her.

Continuing down the hall, he peered into a few rooms in search of Peter. His search ended in the bedroom at the end of the hall. A tear slipped down His cheek as he gazed at His beloved. He wept at the loss of innocence; at all the things that had been stolen from Peter tonight.

“I have overcome this for you,” He said through His tears. “If only you would stay close to me.”

The sleeping Peter lay in bed between two women. There were two boys passed out on the floor amid used crack pipes, dirty needles, and piles of clothes.

The Master reached out and touched Peter’s face. Peter didn’t move. “Peter,” the Master said, “Time to go.”

Peter slowly opened his eyes, trying to focus. “I know your voice,” he said, his own voice raspy and dry.

The Master smiled lovingly at him. “Time to go,” He said again, grabbing Peter by the arm and hoisting him to a sitting position.

“Agh,” Peter said, reaching up to touch his head. “I can’t go. I can’t get up. I’m so heavy, and I feel horrible”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you.” The Master helped Peter find his clothes and get dressed. Peter was too sick to feel ashamed. He was grateful for the strong arms that held him up as he stumbled from the room.

Arm in arm Master and child made their way though the mess to the door. No one seemed to notice. No one said good-bye. This was not a house of friends, this was a place of opportunity and that was all.

Outside, Peter inhaled deeply as fresh air filled his lungs. Too wasted to even begin to know the way home, Peter relied solely on the Master to get him there.

The Master took Peter to His house, cleaned him up, and put him to bed. Then, He went to tell Sarah the good news. Her son was home!
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