The Parable of the Lost Lamb

Based on Luke 15:1-7.

There was a shepherd who had 100 sheep. He was a good shepherd as he loved his flock, knew each one by name and got great satisfaction in taking care of their needs. Each day as he led his flock out to pasture he would talk to them and whistle a merry tune.

There was one little lamb that captured the shepherd’s heart in a special way. He was different from the rest of the flock. He had brown spots on his wool and was an adventuresome little fellow, full of spunk. One moment he would snuggle against the shepherd’s leg and the next he’d be scampering off by himself to the far-reaches of the flock. The shepherd would scold and fuss at the little lamb for venturing from his fretting mother and warn him of the unseen dangers that lurked in the shadows, but the lure of adventure seemed too strong to resist. Often he would have to send his constant companion, the herd dog, off to bring the lamb back to the flock.

But the little lamb did not seem to heed the shepherd’s warnings or notice the danger. Blissfully he frolicked in the meadow and kicked his heels in the breeze. Each day he would venture further and further and sometimes strayed out of the protective eye of the shepherd. Often he’d limp back with his wool full of briars, a scratch on his nose and a bruise on his leg. Tenderly the shepherd nurtured and bandaged each wound while lovingly pleading with the little lamb to be more careful and stay with the flock.

Each night as the shepherd guided his flock home he would sing beloved hymns of praise to the One True Shepherd to whose care he belonged. And each night as the sheep went into the protection of the fold, he stood at the door counting each one…95-96-97-98-99. But this night, one was missing. The shepherd noticed the restless, bleating mother and instinctively knew who was missing. Kneeling beside the bleating mother’s head the shepherd whispered, “I will go and find your boy.”

With a heavy heart the shepherd gathered his staff, search light, blanket, knife, and bottle of oil. Summoning his companion dog with a quick whistle, he locked the door to secure the fold and started off into the dark, foreboding night knowing that a helpless lamb is no match for stalking creatures of prey. The shepherd knew it was going to be a long night for they had traveled many miles that day looking for green pasture and fresh water. He racked his brain to no avail trying to remember when he last saw the little lamb.

The dog knew the routine and immediately set off on a run as he sniffed the ground. For many miles the shepherd and his dog searched and called for the little lamb. In the distance they heard the cry of a howling wolf and overhead a screech owl searching for his evening meal. Often they paused in silence, listening for any sound of a lamb in distress or victorious creatures fighting over their prized catch. At night the terrain seemed more rocky, rough and dangerous. The shepherd had a keen sense for the ways of the wild and his search led him away from the lush meadow grass into the valleys and ravines.

Suddenly the scream of a bobcat in a nearby tree pierced the stillness of the night and froze them in their tracks. Chills ran up and down the shepherd’s spine and the hair on his arms stood on end as the dog yelped and pointed his nose to the wind. The sudden rustle of leaves and snapping of twigs alerted the shepherd that a cat had just fled into the emptiness of the dark night. Suddenly the dog and shepherd heard the weak, pitiful bleat of a lamb in distress. The shepherd followed the dog’s leading and soon found the lamb tangled in a vine at the bottom of a steep cliff. Carefully the shepherd worked his way down the slippery cliff, holding on to small bushes until he reached the trembling, cold lamb. The shepherd talked softly as he reached into the thicket and freed the lamb from his bondage. Tenderly he wrapped him in a blanket sling and secured him to his shoulder for the long trek back home. The exhausted shepherd’s heart was light as he walked home. He had found his lost lamb.

Written December 10, 2008

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