Jesonian: Lost… April 19, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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The shepherd did a quick sheep-head count before leaving the corral. He was taking them out for an experience which eventually ended up in the wilderness.

Other sheep-herders were critical of him, insisting it was better, safer and more logical to keep the sheep cloistered and free of danger.

But this particular shepherd thought it was prudent and necessary for the sheep to stretch their legs, and in so doing, experience things outside their own barn.

It was an exciting journey.

There was a wolf here and there, standing at a distance threateningly, but the shepherd quickly scared them away.

It was near the end of the day–time to go back and rest. That’s what a home base is for–to get food, fellowship and rest.

So the shepherd faithfully did another head count, only to discover that this time he came up with ninety-nine.

One was missing.

This was not acceptable. Any loss of any sheep for any reason can never be considered “collateral damage.”

So the shepherd made a bold choice. He decided to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, feeling they had enough experience to survive for a few minutes, and went out to find the lost sheep.

As it turned out, the sheep got lost because it took a left turn when it should have taken a right, and in no time at all, found itself isolated from the contact to which it was accustomed.

The shepherd picked up the lost sheep and brought it back to the herd.

Unfortunately, several members of the sheep herd were disgruntled and upon arrival of the lamb, they listed their grievances. They expected these concerns to be addressed before total inclusion was achieved:

  1. Why did the shepherd leave them in potential danger to get the lost sheep?
  2. Where had that sheep been?
  3. Why had he left the flock?
  4. What steps going forward would be necessary to make sure this sheep was in submission with the will of the congregation?

The shepherd looked over the list and then burst out laughing.

He said to the gathered ninety-nine:

“I left you because I trained you to be strong, not weak. There are ninety-nine of you against one wolf. You should be able to handle yourselves. And as to the motivations of the lost sheep, or the weaknesses that may be involved, they are just flatly none of your damn business. All that matters is that your comrade–your fellow-sheep who was lost–is now found.”

Even though there were still some misgivings among some of the flock, the strong shepherd making it clear what the motivation was for this herd caused everyone to accept the lost sheep, and in no time at all … its errant path was forgotten.

 

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A Carnal Man … June 3, 2013

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He was scrawny to my fatso, black to my white, smoker to my smokeless and Southern to my Mid-West. Yet he made his way to the window of my van to ask about the conversion aspect of my vehicle and to inquire whether it came “with a bed.”

Always glad to attempt the art of small talk, even when it seems to have microscopic possibilities, I explained all about my vehicle, including the fact that I purchased it with a bed, but I removed it so I could store equipment.

After a few questions about gas mileage, engine size and ride on the road, he finally arrived at his primary concern. “Do most of these conversion vans have beds in the back?”

I told him I believed they did–and he smiled. (When he smiled, I discovered that he was minus a few teeth.)

He then launched into a discourse on the beauty, the power, the glory and the availability of “pepper pots.” (Now, it really wasn’t pepper pots, but for the sake of keeping my jonathots free of questionable language, I will insert this euphemism.)

It very quickly became clear that my new conversation friend loved pepper pots. Matter of fact, he wanted to buy a van so he could climb into the back, onto the bed and discover all the intricacies and inner workings of pepper pots.

Honestly, I was a bit startled with the transition–from talking about front disc brakes to pepper pots–but I decided to hang in there so as not to appear judgmental, naive or discourteous. Little did I know that pepper pots was one of his favorite topics of conversation.

Also somewhere along the line, in elaborating about pepper pots, he decided to start talking about “salt mounds” (once again, a euphemism.)

He yammered and yammered and yammered about the subject. I think I saw a tear come to his eye when he discussed the gorgeous nature of pepper pots and salt mounds joining together to perform the action that God intended.

All at once, he mentioned the fact that his wife had died six years earlier. I seized that moment to change the subject to his dearly departed, to find out a little more about her. He softened as he explained that he had been married to her for twenty-three years, had stayed faithful and had never visited another pepper pot as long as she lived. It was a sweet moment.

But then he noticed my I-pad sitting in my lap and wondered if I had been watching X-rated movies. Reassuring him that I hadn’t, he went on to explain that if I WAS looking for such entertainment, there was a wonderful video store just down the street that had some of the finest flicks available–and also some side rooms where you could improv with the scenes you had just beheld.

I was certainly out of my element–but honestly did not want to come across like a prude or some sort of evangelist out to save his soul or … well, I really just didn’t know how to get out of the entanglement.

He stayed and he stayed and he stayed. Several times I reached out to shake his hand, to bring finality to our excursion, which he gladly shook–and then continued on with his tales.

I believe he took every angle on the pepper pots and salt mounds that was humanly possible.

I listened. Why?  Because I knew this stranger was lonely.

Sometimes we’re very critical of people and refer to them as “carnal” because they only pursue matters of the flesh. We never stop to realize that this kind of odyssey ends up your day with skin and goo. Nothing much ever gets inside.

But here I was–a fella sittin’ in front of him, about his age–and I was listening.

We must have talked for forty minutes–so much so that any additional dialogue about pepper pots and salt mounds would not be necessary for me for at least a couple of years.

At length, I realized I could not get rid of the fellow unless I told him I had to go. Fortunately for me, it happened to be the truth. I excused myself and he asked me where I was heading.

I said, “I have to go pick up my friends.”

“Pepper pots?” he asked.

“And much more,” I replied.

I squeezed his hand and looked into his eyes. There was a living soul there. There was a lot of passion there. There was a lot of belief in life that would not necessarily be acceptable in normal liturgy on a Sunday morning.

This man worshiped one part of creation–honestly, a very small part. Yet getting him to believe in the true nature Creator would be much easier to do than some hardened Bible thumper who was convinced that he was already redeemed.

I think this is why Jesus said that God is very willing to leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to go after the one that’s lost. Sometimes you get tired of tending the sheep and you want to chase down a wild one. You know–folks who talk about pepper pots and salt mounds.

I told him I’d be thinking about him … and “God bless you.”

He was sad to see me go.

I read somewhere that a carnal mind is the enemy of God. It’s not because God is prissy. It’s because when all you can think about is fleshy things, you often end up alone.

And I also read: “It’s just not good for a man to be alone.”

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