Recently I think I have had glimpses of “mother moments.” Times when I wonder if this is what a mother might feel like when she deeply desires something for her child because of her love and care for them.
On Saturday I taught the first girls' Bible study of the school term. The topic was beauty, how it is defined, why we are all beautiful, and what true beauty is – inner beauty. As I spoke and looked into those brown faces and beautiful chocolate eyes, I hoped these young women were catching the message.
“You are beautiful. You are valuable. All because God made you that way.”
Can an hour-long lesson on a rainy Saturday afternoon alter the many image-shattering messages they have heard and received since childhood? Only by God’s grace.
I watch and enjoy a small group of girls lead praise and worship yesterday in church. I pray that the words they sing enthusiastically are truly understood and embraced by their young hearts.
Will they always hold to this transformational faith that they seem to claim now? Is it truly settled into their hearts and minds and producing eternal fruit to bless them and others and glorify God?
I so much want “my” students to know how very much God loves and values them, perhaps like Christian mothers want for their own children. I desire them to know that hard work, perseverance and patience do pay – in any culture. Do they grasp that the choices they make today will forever affect their futures?
I want them to understand and embrace so much, but I can really only do so little. They have wills and free choice. They can choose to tune me out, to “pretend” they are paying attention in class, in Bible study, in church.
But, when they leave the school, the island, which path will they ultimately choose? I wish I could make that choice for them, but I can’t.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the Parable of the Lost Sheep (found in Luke 15:3-7) and recently taught a Sunday School lesson about it. Those few verses tell us so much about our amazing Good Shepherd and His dogged, but compassionate pursuit of us.
As he counted his sheep, the Shepherd noticed Number 100 was missing. He left the 99 in their pen and went and searched for Number 100. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long or hard the Shepherd looked, but does say He was in the “wilderness,” meaning the searching was not easy.
And, He didn’t give up until he found 100. And what did He do when He found this lost sheep, who had likely misbehaved, strayed and brought this fate on himself? Did He beat it? Berate it? Call it names?
No, He lovingly picked it up – probably all wet and dirty and smelly – and carried it all the way home on His strong and capable shoulders.
And, what did He do when they arrived home? Did he toss 100 back in the pen? Chain it to the nearest fence post, threatening punishment if it ever pulled a trick like that again?
No. He did very much the opposite. The Shepherd called His friends and neighbors and threw a party! Why? Because Number 100 that had been lost was now found. Have you ever thrown a party after finding a lost pet or another recovered item? I think not. That would be silly.
It wasn’t silly to the Shepherd. It is obvious that the love and care He had for this ordinary, plain, stubborn, rebellious sheep was extraordinary, supernatural, in fact.
I long with all my heart that each of “my” students will be found by the Good Shepherd. Some have been found. Some want to be found, but still seem “lost.” And others really don’t want to be found, at least not yet.
Yet, my “mother’s heart” takes hope and assurance that the Good Shepherd won’t give up – no matter how long or how far they roam. He loves them beyond mine and their comprehension.
Pray for them. Pray for the students and the school, for the youth and others of the islands. I am so thankful that I have the privilege to work with an organization, Shepherd's Heart International Ministry (SHIM), that has a "shepherd's heart" for the people of the islands.
I long from the depth of my heart that the students and islanders will know the Good Shepherd is searching for them and will always welcome them home.
And when they arrive home He will throw a party – a party that beats all parties.
Have you been found by the Shepherd?
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