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The Lost Herd
Not For Sale
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Matt 18 and Luke 14 contain a parable that demonstrates the love that Jesus
has for each and every one of us. The story is told about a shepherd that
leaves 99 sheep behind to search for the single sheep that has wandered
away. For preserving the 99 was not the Shepherds goal. Every single sheep
was under his care, and no matter what, he could not rest till the very last
sheep was safe and home.
My family is more accurately described as 'The Lost Herd'. For
rebellion was unanimous. It wasn't one sheep that wandered; it was the
entire flock. But by the grace of God, even one at a time, each came back
to the incredible solace found only in The Shepherd.
The Lost Herd.
As a child the divorce of my parents, landed me and my 2 sisters at my
grandmothers house on East 5th in North Vancouver. Many blessed moments
transpired there, but there is a singular memory that remains indelibly
stamped on my heart, like it just happened yesterday.
* *. *.
I was in an upstairs bedroom that shared a separating wall, between it and
my grandparents bedroom.
I awoke early one morning to an enthusiastic conversation taking place in
the next room. My grandfather was animated, his laugh unmistakable between
the 2 rooms. But then as I listened closer, he seemed to deflate, the
conversation in the adjoining room having taken a much quieter tone. Even as
an 8 year old boy, and with a wall separating us, I knew my grandfather was
I jumped from my bed and out into the hallway where I quietly approached my
grandparents room. The door was closed so I paused for a moment, my hand on
the doorknob. I was incredibly relieved to hear my grandfather talking once
again, clearly undisturbed and quite jovial in his expression. Whomever he
was with, had clearly eased his spirit. I listened with ear flush against
the door, straining my senses in an effort to capture even a single word.
But he and his guest had gone quiet.
I spun on my heels and rode the stairway handle all the way to the 2nd
floor, on my way to the kitchen. Granny was there, of course, Bible open at
the kitchen table. I was much less concerned about her Bible than I was
about the breakfast I was due. She greeted me lovingly as usual at which
time I asked her an obvious question. "
Who's upstairs with Grampy?"
* *. *.
( Matt 18, Luke 14 )
I grew up in a Christian family, rooted deep in The Word for generations.
And as the family laboured in the Faith, it wandered even farther, into the
I remember as a young boy, celebrating on the same weekend, one uncle
completing his studies for his pastorate, while another uncle, 2 years
older, walked out of a Provincial prison, a tentative parolee.
Such was the family; one foot in Glory, while the other seemingly faced
* *. *.
My grandfather was a brilliant practitioner of Biblical discipline.
As a young man, late teens, while his brothers went off to study medicine,
he wandered right off the end of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver, and
onto a freighter. Fifty years later, he was still a seaman. In the interim
he married my grandmother, an indisputable catch for any man from any walk
of life. To this moment as I write, pride is narrowly outweighed by a
certain awe that is at the core of my grandmothers persona ; An inner
strength that is very difficult to define in a few short words ; An example
for the ages of a woman that never considered making even a single excuse
for her lot in this life. A mother that prayed her way into every blessing
she ever realized. A warrior on her knees, while the rest of the world,
including her own children, squandered their Christian heritage and embraced
the disastrous inevitability, of life outside of Gods Will.
* *. *.
By 1954 there were 9 sons, 2 daughters, and an unspeakable amount of
rebellion, that rounded off the family in North Vancouver. My grandpa was
still at sea, every minute possible. He had long since established himself
as a formidable seaman, a stalwart example of a ships officer. 'Bible Bill'
was never caught up in the debauchery that is legendary amongst those that
toiled at sea. In ports all over this world, when crews and officers went
ashore to get their land legs and let it all loose, Grampy stayed aboard the
ship. That is unless there might be a local family to fellowship with. The fellowship for Christian sailors
was a loosely organized fraternity designed to accommodate Brothers in
Christ that might briefly take refuge in their port cities. A Christian
couple or family, welcomed foreign seamen into their churches and homes.
Bible Bill would certainly seek out such as these to break bread and
fellowship with. Grampy was not a perfect father, that is clear. But I have
no doubt that he was a perfect shipmate and an honourable husband, that even
in his 20's / early 30's, never once considered infidelity or drunkenness as
merely a part of being at sea ; A world away from his wife, and even further
away from any form of accountability.
Excepting that is, an innate accountability to The Lord.
* *. *.
Ultimately a family of boys, plus 2 sisters, that grew up in the Faith of
their parents; a family that witnessed prayer from the soul, and teaching
from the Word, well before they could even walk or talk; Steeped into the
Faith until it became an essential appendage ; An irrevocable base to which,
true to The Word (
Proverbs22:6 ), every single one, would eventually return.
In fact The Lord, in His unequivocal love and tenderness, allowed my dear
Grandmother to see each of her children restored to their faith in Christ,
before she ever went home to await them all in Glory.
And as for my grandfather, a man that unconditionally embraced his
relationship with The Lord, it would forever be questionable when it comes
to priorities in this life. For it is certainly reasonable to wonder why a
highly intelligent man, sold out beyond question to his Faith, might board
the ship in front of him, while the enemy ravaged away at the family he left
* *. *.
If we can't defend our loved ones, then who will we ever be compelled to
defend? And it is in this context that I arrive at a barely acceptable
explanation for my Grandfathers behaviour. I believe that he, more than
anyone else ever could, was aware of his constraints as a stay home father,
his demeanour and his propensity for discipline, graciously left town with
him whenever the sea called his name. For everyone of us that ever parented
a child, has compiled in the process, an endless portfolio of behaviours
that given a second chance, would be significantly altered.
* *. *.
"Who's upstairs with Grampy?"
"Well there's no one upstairs with Grampy" my grandma answered.
"Why do you ask?"
"He is upstairs with someone" I answered. "I can hear them talking ".
My grandmother smiled that Granny smile, eyes glinting, barely containing
behind them, the enthusiasm she shared between her and The Lord.
" Do you remember the Hymn we sing at church?" Granny asked. " What A Friend
We Have In Jesus?" Of course I remembered the Hymn, every verse.
" Well he's up there talking to His best friend".
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