I nearly didn’t write this post and then when I did I just about deleted it.
I’m prone to overthink things and that’s what happened here. What if people misunderstand? What if people think it’s corny? What if it sounds churchy? It also feels somewhat like a humbling post. At the end of the day, it’s something I felt and part of the whole process of healing my mind and soul is to allow myself to feel stuff and live to tell about it.
Live to tell about it. Sounds dramatic.
If you’re like me, you know how difficult it can sometimes be to feel things at a deep level and when you do, you don’t always know what to do with that! Sometimes I’ll be moved during a song, or while pondering on things, and a tear will form in the corner of my eye and begin to slowly make its way down my cheek. I’m always caught by surprise when that happens and I kinda secretly get excited!
Then something happens.
First thought is “this feels nice”.
Second thought is “can I stay in this for a bit?”.
Third thought is “oh crap, I went from feeling to thinking about the fact that I was feeling and now that one tear has run its course and there ain’t no more! Please come back”.
A few seconds later and it’s all over.
Well, this post isn’t about crying. Sorry. It’s about allowing our heart/soul/mind (whatever you want to call your inner place) to be touched in unexpected ways and letting that moment speak to you and do its thing.
Get to the point Georges! Ok, fine. This particular moment started with a story. A story about a sheep. Actually, it’s mostly about the keeper of the sheep; you know, the Shepherd. Maybe you can sense my slow typing here and hesitancy to bring up images of sheep and the good shepherd. There are associations there that I’m not comfortable with. That’s why in the title I also threw in the coin and the child. Two stories that follow the one about the sheep. They are meant to emphasize the same point as the sheep story and, quite frankly, I prefer them.
But, it’s the story about the sheep that triggered this specific feel good moment. Yes I’m using “triggered” to reference something positive. So as much as I’d like to focus on the story about the coin and the child, I’ll stick to the sheep for now.
This all ties into my last post and everything that has been going on for me over the last few years, more specifically the last year and, closer still, the last 4 months. You can read this as a continuation of that post.
Sunday morning I decided to go to church. I had not been to a in-person church service in over two years. I can blame COVID for that but I was happy for the excuse. For about two years before that, even when I did go to church I was no longer sitting in the auditorium. I couldn’t connect to the music and I felt like the teaching mostly fell flat (sorry). Instead I remained in the foyer and chatted with others who hung out there. That was real to me.
Georges, what’s sheep got to do, got to do with it? In french we have an expression that goes “accouche, qu’on baptise!”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it in english (give birth so that we can baptize!). In other words, get to the point.
So I’m sitting there Sunday and someone mentions the story found in Luke 15 about the Shepherd who has 100 sheep. One of the sheep gets sidetracked, loses its way and the Shepherd leaves the 99 to go find the 1.
I was not hearing this for the first time. It’s a classic in christian circles. I had preached it or mentioned it multiple times while I was a pastor and even at a younger age when teaching Sunday school classes and leading the youth group. That story and the two that follow, the coin and the child, are powerful stories.
Context : Jesus is teaching as he often did. We read that the tax collectors and the sinners gathered near to listen to him. Notice how the tax collectors are included here with the sinners! Maybe you feel strongly about this during tax season. The term sinner is used broadly and in context refers to anyone who didn’t live up to or fit the moral standard of the Pharisees. Count me in. The Pharisees and the Scribes were grumbling and whining. They were all worked up about the fact that Jesus liked to welcome, hang out, eat and party with these sinners! The Pharisees were always grumbling and were mostly unimpressed with Jesus (more about that in another post).
I had always taught this story from the vantage point of the 99; “we got ourselves a descent shepherd willing to do what it takes to go fetch a straggler,” and from the point of view of the bible teacher I would sometimes ask the audience some form of, “are you a straggler? Have you lost your way?”. As I sat there Sunday and this story was very briefly mentioned I saw myself as the ONE sheep and I felt loved. It felt strange and it stuck with me throughout the rest of the day. At first I tried to avoid the thoughts and feelings that the story had awakened. Honestly, my overwhelming thought was; no way I’m going to be touched by this. I don’t believe like that anymore. Or do I. Besides, I definitely wouldn’t share this with anyone. They might get all worked up and say things like, “yes, God answered our prayers and he’s back in the fold”. I still cringe a little when I think about that. Then I have to ask myself why. Why is it so humiliating to you to have been touched by something in the bible? Why is it weird to you and why would you be ashamed of that? It doesn’t have to mean anything more than what it is. You were there, you were listening and pondering and something moved you.
Ok, I can live with that.
I didn’t say anything to my wife until last night when we went for a walk and even then I nearly didn’t. Likewise, I nearly didn’t write about it. Here we are, another one of those posts that you start without really knowing where it will end up.
So to wrap it up; with all that has gone on for many years now and especially the last few leading into the past months, there I was. The straggler. While I was wandering I saw some cool things, made some important realizations that will stick with me, saw some different parts of the country and, I think, became a better sheep from all the walking around. Stronger legs and stuff like that. But I guess there was still a part of me that felt lost. In that moment on Sunday, as I heard the story and was thinking back on the events of the last months, I felt found.
Can you relate?