Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP


Sarah peeks out of the window, sees a neighbour packing camping gears into his car, about to drive away for a family trip. She senses tears begin to form and quickly wipes them away from her misty eyes. Who cares anyway of how she feels, her narrow-minded reasoning seems to get the better of her. From the kitchen in her studio apartment, she hears a shout from her roommate, Cheryl. “Breakfast’s ready, girl! We’re getting late for work!” her friend calls, not knowing the rumblings in Sarah’s heart. “Ok. Coming,” she moans.


The girls are working in a hypermarket with meagre salary, enough to survive in the city. Sarah feels like a drop in an ocean in this huge one-storey mega store together with hundreds of workers. Busy people pass her by everyday and none has stopped to greet her and asked how she is doing.

“Hey! Aren’t you the one who escaped from the Home some time ago?” a man rudely asks. Sarah is taken aback by a familiar face she recognises from the orphanage. Andrew is the son of the caretaker and a notorious figure there. He co-runs the Centre with his dad with an iron fist, sorely lacking in love and compassion. It was those missing ingredients that Sarah and Cheryl ran away from, assisted by other under privileged teenagers who cheered them on. She risked never ever knowing her roots by her disappearing act. She dreams everyday of a warm family.

“What do you want from me?” Sarah questions without looking at Andrew.

“Nothing really. I am surprised at your survival skill. You actually can make it on your own,” he insinuates.

“Your Centre is not the centre of everything you know!” Sarah blurts. Although she wants to ask him lots of questions concerning her friends back there, her anger won’t permit her.

“You have started a riot there. Many had done the same since you left,” Andrew mutters annoyingly.

“Who wouldn’t? All you guys care is numbers and the grant and cash you received every year. It’s like this stupid mega store who only cares about profit and loss,” she gripes.

“Blah, blah, blah! Someone called in and looking for you, Sarah,” he speaks with a sly smile.

Sarah lunges at Andrew, throwing him off balance. “Who called me, Andrew! Tell me, who called me!” she shouts like a girl gone crazy. She always dreamt of someone calling her at the Home but that day never came.

“Hey! Hey! Back off!” Andrew manages to straighten up. “She said her name is Mrs. Webster,” he reveals, seeing the desperation of Sarah.

“What else did she say? Tell me please!” she pleads.

“Okay! Okay! She wanted to tell you something, that’s all! I got her number. You must thank me,” Andrew tells her with a sense of pride, back to his old self again.

For once in her stinking life, she senses hope, like a light through a long tunnel. Tears fill her eyes as her mind shoots back to that loving family next door. “Maybe Mrs. Webster could be my long lost Mama!” she whispers to herself.

Back at the apartment…

Sarah hears a knock on the door. “This could be it!” she tries to be calm. Opening the door, she finds a fine looking couple staring and looking intently at her. “Are you Sarah?” the woman sounds desperate. “Yes, I am!” Sarah replies softly. The already red-eyed lady burst out in tears, “Please forgive me! Please forgive me, Sarah!” The man holds her steady and explains, “Girl, we are deeply sorry for what has happened to you.”

“When you were born, both of us made a stupid decision to send you to the Home,” Mr. Webster continues.

“You mean you guys didn’t want me! How could you?” Sarah’s excitement turns to anger.

“Sarah, we were young and all we care was our own selfish little dreams. Forgive us, please,” her father pleads.

“Why now?” Sarah cries, begging for answers.

“We did enquire about you regularly at the Home. And we have been looking for you ever since you ran away,” Mrs Webster tearfully chips in. “We want you to come home to family, please!” she implores.

“Yes! We are a family of six now including you. You are our missing link, Sarah. Come back to us. We need you,” her father pleads with her.

Sarah nods her head and there they huddle together, crying unashamedly. While all these are going on, Cheryl is sobbing in her room.

“I know why you didn’t want me when I was born. It is because of my crippled legs, isn’t it? I am still a cripple. Do you really love me?” Sarah desires assurance.

“Today, you are not only Sarah. You are Sarah Webster! We love you because of who you are!” her dad hugs her tight.

“By the way, can I have one request from both of you? Can you adopt Cheryl, my roommate as family too?”

The parable of the Lost Sheep is found in Matthew 18: 10-14 and Luke 15: 4-7.

There is a car sticker that says, “If you don’t like my attitude, call 1800-Who-Cares”. We are living in a world that craves for success in terms of numbers, statistics and materialistic things. The more one has, the more successful the person is. Some go to the extent of being so impersonal just to make it in the world. They don’t give two hoots to anyone lesser than them and some even dare to marginalise people just to empower themselves.

In this parable, God looks at an individual as precious gem. In the Father’s eyes, everyone is equal and is a child that needs love and compassion. He knows every child and each of their names! King David declares God’s love by saying that God knew him even while he was in his mothers’ womb (Psalm 139).

In Matthew, Jesus speaks about children that adults will simply cast aside as unimportant. Not God! God loves them as much as the adults. He even assigns angels for each of them (Matt. 18:10-11).

In Luke’s version of the same parable, Jesus talks about the despised tax collectors and sinners in the eyes of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. But in the eyes of God, they are lost souls who need His touch of grace! Jesus is a ‘doctor’ who comes for the sick. He cannot heal those who think that they are healthy.

In fact, if we read carefully both parables, Jesus is actually rebuking those who think they have made it in life, spiritually (Matt. 18:1-4). In other words, they are ‘rich’ in spirit as contrast to the poor in spirit. The ninety nine sheep may refer or allude to these ‘healthy’ that Jesus would leave behind just to find the one who longs for His touch (Luke 15:7)! Jesus came to seek and save which was lost (Luke 19:10). In the book of Judges, God punished the Israelites by allowing enemies to overpower them but when they cried out, He delivered them. The best example is when Jesus went into Simon the Pharisee's house for dinner and a woman barged in, begging Jesus for a touch in desperation. Both Simon and the woman were in close proximity with Jesus, one was forgiven and healed, the other left untouched!

What is the difference between other religions and Christianity? Religions tell followers to find God and to please Him by doing stuffs. Christianity tells everyone that God finds you and he rescues you by sending His Son to be sacrificed on behalf of the whole world. Another car sticker reads, “SEARCH and RESCUE – Jesus searches for you and He rescues you”

If you are alive today, God loves you! You are not just a statistic but a precious soul that God adores and one that He sent Jesus Christ to die for! The world may not care but God cares!

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