Like a lost lamb who wandered away

Photo of a rescued lamb recently found in a dumpster in England.

The story in the 23rd Psalm of the Old Testament Bible of The Good Shepherd was always my favorite, growing up, as was the accompanied photo of the Good Shepherd, used to depict the famed bible story. A shepherd leads his flock of sheep through valleys of green pastures and gentle slopes overlooking meadows and brooks flowing with clean, cool water to quench their thirst. It is a beautiful image. But, the story goes on to describe a darker, difficult journey on their way to the meadow’s brook before they can rest and take nourishment from all that the Good Shepherd has led them to.

Sometimes we walk through valleys in our life, into a path of uncertainty and we need the reassurance that our Savior, our Shepherd walks with us, leading us through it. My family had an experience like that once, over thirty-five years ago.

We were on vacation visiting my husband’s parents in Miami Beach, Florida when our daughter, age ten at that time, went walking one Friday night with my husband and his step-father.

The three followed the sidewalk along the edge of a baseball field during a game. Skipping along at a faster clip, she took a wrong turn, losing sight of them and lost her way. Realizing after some time that she was not around anywhere they looked they came back to my mother-in-law’s house with the news and to inquire from neighbors and enlist their help to look for her. There was no Amber Alert back then, but the neighborhood watch group wasted no time, got in their cars and drove around looking for her as did my husband and his step-father, in separate cars.

I immediately called the Dade County police dept., and reported her missing. They sent out two patrol cars to help, and hours later with no success an APB went out on their car radios to alert other officers.

As the agonizing hours passed during that time while waiting at the house with my mother-in-law and our youngest child I prayed fervently that God would watch over her and get her safely back home to us.

It was nearing midnight, and still no sign of her. I imagined filled bars and nightspots on a Friday night in Dade County with its heavy traffic. We refused to dwell on the possibility that she might have been abducted.

As my husband drove through a section in a well-lit commercial district miles from the site of her disappearance he spotted her bright orange tee-shirt on a crowded street. He honked till the horn went hoarse, sped to a stop and ran to her across the street.

When she was back home safely she told us how she’d gotten lost, couldn’t find her way back and just walked on, desperately seeking her father. The darkness, the fear and dread of that night was gone. We knew it was God who watched over her the whole time. Finding our lost child brought indescribable joy and celebration to our reunion that night.

When our ordeal was over, a police officer said to us, “You people are lucky. It does not often end so well.”

When difficult times come it is then when we need to know our Shepherd, our Savior has not left us, that we are not out of His realm of protection and grace.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

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