Saturday, January 29, 2011
I think that sometimes as Christian women we feel pretty lost, like we are the "one" that Christ needs to leave the ninety-nine for. We get so overwhelmed with trying to keep all the commandments (perfectly!) and beat ourselves up because we don't think we're good enough. We feel like giving up and think that we need to be rescued because we don't feel as strong as we'd like to be.
But we're wrong.
I'm sure plenty of people will argue with me on this point. But I'll stand by it. We are NOT LOST. And we don't need rescuing. Not in the major sense, anyways.
Here's what we're overlooking: if we are blessed enough to not only have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to also have accepted it, been baptized, and be following His teachings, then we have been found. Not only found, but saved.
If we feel like we need to be sought, it's only because we are keeping ourselves on the fringes and not actively participating in the fold. Jesus is still our shepherd. He's still within hearing distance, and is actively listening for our call. He hasn't taken the rest of the flock to graze elsewhere and purposely left us behind. He may be moving the flock to greener pastures, but He's been leading and calling the whole time. If we aren't right in the midst with Him, it's because we've gotten distracted, lost sight of Him, or maybe are just enjoying our little plot of grass too much to follow Him to a different place.
The truly lost sheep isn't even within hearing distance. They have lost sight of the flock and haven't heard the call of the shepherd. They are wandering in paths we wouldn't want to be on, often searching for the safety and comfort of a flock with a faithful shepherd. The lost are those who haven't heard the gospel message, or have become completely separated from their flock.
You can't be lost if you are still around the flock. It doesn't matter if you are on the outer edges of the group, if you are grazing alone, or if you feel inadequate or unaccepted. You're still part of God's fold. After you've joined, the only way you can be lost is if you decide to be.
If we, as members of God's church, feel lost, then we probably need to re-evaluate where we're at. Are we doing all we can to be close to the Shepherd? Are we doing the things He taught? Or are we so focused on our selves that we can't see the rest of the flock around us? If we feel the need to be rescued, rather than hearing the call to rescue others, it might be because we have lost sight of the fact that we have already been found.
I think I'm just as guilty as anyone else of thinking that it's all too hard. I can never live up to everything that's (supposedly) expected of me. I'm not perfect in any single principle and I still struggle with basic commandments. I feel weak and stupid and helpless. So I'm lost, right? I need someone else to come strengthen me and help me through the struggles. I need someone to show me how to be perfect.
Hmm... where can I find someone like that? Is there some fantastic woman out there just waiting to be my friend? Is there some spiritual giant at church who can tutor me? There might be. But chances are that I'm going to have the same people around me who have always been there. So I'm left trying to figure out how to be perfect on my own.
And that's where we go wrong. Because Jesus has already found us. He's already brought us into the flock and given us His words and His example. He is the one we need to turn to when we feel lost. We need to quit hoping for some earthly angel to "save" us. We have to shut out the distractions and listen for His voice. We need to call out to Him and actively work to get back into the flock and close to our shepherd.
Jesus didn't say "Come follow me and everything is going to be great. You're going to be strong and perfect, and everything's going to come easy for you. There'll be nothing but green pastures from here on out!"
No, He said "Come follow me. It's going to be hard. You're going to have weaknesses and you're going to have to work hard to stay close to me. BUT, I will help you. I will lead you, and I will love you. And in the end, I will save you and perfect you."
We're never going to be perfect on our own. We're always going to struggle and feel inadequate. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ. He is the one who will give us strength and ability far beyond our own. We can't save ourselves, no matter how much we do or how good we are. Perfection and eternal life can only come through Jesus Christ.
We are so blessed to believe in Him, to know Him, and to have His guidance. We have the most faithful and loving of all shepherds. We have all the resources we need to be part of His flock.
It's probably high time we realized this and started seeking those who are truly lost. Let's work on our closeness to the shepherd, remind ourselves of what we already know, and then go and find the sheep who are without a shepherd, who need to hear the gospel of Christ, who need redemption and love. We can't wait until we have perfect faith and are "strong enough" because that time will never come. We are strong enough in Christ. We have faith enough through Christ. We can do all things in Christ because we have been found and claimed by Him.