Joshua found himself calling her name into the black night, knowing full well the exercise was useless. “Lady, Laaaa-deee”, where could that contrary sheep be this time?
Searching for Lady was becoming a weekly occurrence, and not one Joshua relished. “If it weren’t for Zeb, that sheep would be mutton stew”, he found himself grumbling. But his mind’s picture of his little boy’s smile kept him trudging onward, pulling the scarf tighter around his neck. Was that a drop of rain?
He’d already checked Lady’s usual routes of escape with no sign of her. Turning to go back for something to cover his head, he caught a flash of white out of the corner of his eye. How in the world could she have found the fence hole through all those brambles?
But there she was, and had been for who knew how long. He quickened his pace, most alarmed by her silence. Thoughts of Zeb’s smile turned to dread at what he’d find when he reached the wandering lamb.
Drawing closer, Joshua could see the fear in the trapped sheep’s eyes and the crusted blood against her wool. Her limp posture told him that she’d used up all her energy trying to pull herself free. “In over your head again, eh girl?” He tried to speak in soothing tones, as much to calm himself as her, as he gingerly pulled the thorny vines from her matted limbs. Joshua steeled himself against the painful procedure, telling himself he’d do anything to avoid Zeb’s tears of disappointment.
A weak bleat passed Lady’s leathery lips as Joshua pressed the full force of his body to free her from the rubble trapping her in the crevice of the stone fence. Suddenly free, she hobbled forward with a burst of energy. “Ready to go home, girl?”, Joshua chuckled into the night. As if on cue, the gentle rain became a torrent, sending both shepherd and sheep running toward the security of shelter.
An unmistakable silhouette against the dark horizon, Zeb toddled toward them, rain streaming down his gleaming face. “Lady! My Lady!”. Zeb quickly caught up with the injured animal, wrapping his tiny arms around her.
“Daddy, thank you. Thank you for finding Lady.” Zeb’s voice overflowed with the uncensored emotion of a child, his brown eyes full of joy. “Thank you, Daddy, for not giving up.”
Joshua heard the words pass his lips before he had a chance to think, “I love her too, son.”
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’
I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Luke 15:4-6 (NASB)
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