Daily Devotion, 4-29-2020

Pastor: Connie Belmore

The Lost and Stray
Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16                                                                               

About ten years ago, my family “inherited” two new family members. From 2009-2010, and within a 6-month period, we became pet owners to Islay and Layla, two lost and stray dogs who looked as if they had been abandoned by their owners. Islay was first discovered by a good friend of mine in her neighborhood and she fell in love with her but did not feel that her little dog would get along with Islay, a pit bull mix. So after a month or so, she became a member of our family. The little dog, Layla, was found in my neighborhood by my now son-in-law and both he and my daughter convinced me that Islay needed a little sister. For the past ten years, I have tended to and cared for Islay and Layla.


Today’s Scripture reading describes the Sovereign Lord as a shepherd who searches for, looks after, gathers in, pastures, tends to and, feeds people who are like Islay and Layla… the lost and the stray. It took me two times to read the passage to understand that the Sovereign Lord is particularly drawn to the lost and stray sheep and binds up their injuries and strengthens their weakness. To take this even further, God destroys the sleek and the strong. This statement really struck me in that I wondered what is so awful about being a strong person who looks sleek. Well the truth is nothing, unless their way of being sleek and strong is because they have stepped on the backs of the poor, injured lost and strays. Through Ezekiel, God is speaking to the people of Israel and to us today, to stress God’s emphasis on taking care of those who are lost and stray.

As Christians we are called to be shepherds for the Shepherd. Bad shepherds only care about themselves, worry about their own well-being, rule with harshness and cruelty, abandon the lost and stray, keeping the best for themselves. Good shepherds are godly in that they take care of the flock, strengthen the weak and sick, seek out the lost, rule with love and gentleness, gather and protect and, give their very best to the sheep.  As Christians we are called to be like the Good Shepherd, as God the Father and Jesus the Son are. We are to seek out the lost and the lonely… those who have been cast aside or have gone astray… and bring them to the fold or back to the fold. Who are we seeking out to be part of our flock? Are we seeking for the sleek, clean and strong? Are we seeking those who are safe, nice and neat or are we looking for those who may be weak, may have made a few mistakes, may need to be loved and treated gently? Ministry can be messy and is complicated because we cannot change the life of another. But we can bring them back into the fold and let the Good Shepherd take care of the nurturing that is beyond our reach. Are we truly living into our call to be just, show mercy and walk humbly when it comes to who we invite to be a part of our “flock”?

 

 

 
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