While visiting family in Delaware recently, we had an opportunity to visit the Delaware Children’s Museum. It was a great place to visit and we had a wonderful afternoon running from one interactive exhibit to another. In the midst of the fun, we had a few moments of excitement involving Zeke and one of my nieces. The culprit himself really wanted to tell this story, so here it is in his own six year old words.
First, we were at the maze. Then we came to the exercise room. Then after a while, I got bored. And I got tired with [my cousin] so we went to the restaurant room. I was watching a TV that was telling you how to be nice and give things to people. Dad found me in the restaurant room and said, “Oh Zeke we were looking for you.” So we went back to everyone else. And then we went to the construction room with mom.
It all sounds so simple and calm to hear him tell it doesn’t it? It almost sounds logical, as if they should have wandered off. But you can imagine that we were not nearly that calm. There were only 8 kids to four adults, which in our world is a pretty good ratio but still a lot of kids to keep track of. Then there’s the confusion of which adults had which kids. I remember scanning the room for the kids and missing one. I’m not an overly fearful or protective parent, but that little nagging thought of the worst case scenario pops into your head none-the-less. However, he wasn’t supposed to be with me, so I wasn’t that worried. Until, that is, I saw my wife a few minutes later and she said, “Isn’t Zeke with you?” Now I was worried.
You’ve already heard the outcome, but those few brief moments of gathering the other kids to keep them safe and swiftly scouring the entire museum were pretty intense. Who knew that so many terrible thoughts and fears could go through one’s mind in such a few short minutes? Fortunately, God protected them and all is well. However, even when there’s a positive outcome, those situations stay with you for a while.
As I thought more about the experience, I was reminded of the parable of the one lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-13. It’s really more of a hypothetical question than a full parable, though that label certainly fits. Jesus simply asks, “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”
My experience with Zeke combined with this parable from Jesus served as a powerful reminder of the great love of God for me. Despite having many better sheep, He persisted in chasing me until He found me so that I could experience His love the way His children do. He still pursues me when I wander off. I’m so thankful that He loves me enough to come after me.
It also challenged me to join the Father in pursuing the lost. Imagine if upon discovering Zeke was lost I had simply left him. After all, I have 3 other kids. Seventy-five percent is still pretty good. We can’t even fathom a parent that might think that way, yet that is exactly the attitude we have toward our lost friends and neighbors and our wandering brothers. How dare we decide that they aren’t important enough to pursue? We must be the hands and feet of Jesus and go after that lost sheep with the same intensity and desperation with which I sought my little lost Zeke. After all, “your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:14).”