None of the men in the two more secure units were interested in a visit tonight. A visit from the chaplain is only offered to the men who are out for rec. time, so I know participation will be low. It is also new to even have me visit, so they may not be used to the idea or even understand the purpose.
I had one man come to Bible Study, and another man requested a visit at his cell door since he was not out for rec. time.
The man who came to the study was fairly new to the unit and it was the first time I’d met him. I’ll call him “M”. He indicated he was schedule for release in a few weeks. I gave “M” a copy of the devotional Our Daily Bread.
Last Saturday I heard a former inmate speak. The Daily Bread devotionals were available in his prison. He’s been out of prison for years but he still enjoys reading the devotional and looks forward to when new ones come out.
Our study tonight was:
Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV)
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.
I read the first part and “M” read the rest. He had heard about this story but had never heard it or read it.
“M” was raised in the city and had no experience with sheep. There was a town a few hours from where he grew up that had lots of farmers and ranchers. “M” said he stuck out like a sore thumb when he was in that town. He did recall how peaceful that town was.
Where I grew up a breed of dog called a Blue Heeler was used for herding sheep and cattle. It’s a lot of fun to watch these dogs work. Even with a good dog it is possible for a sheep to get separated from the rest of the flock. The sheep may not even realize that it is lost. The job of the shepherd is to find it and bring it back to the flock.
I told him about a sheep that had been lost for 6 years. By the time he was found his wool weighed 60 pounds. All of this wool can become a health and safety concern for sheep, especially if they are in very hot conditions. Heat stress can become a real issue. Also, if a sheep’s wool becomes too large they can get stuck on their backs, unable to get up.
“M” has several children in their teens and a 5-year old. An example we talked about was if he took his family to a mall, and the 5-year old wandered off. He wouldn’t say, “well, I have the rest of the kids, that’s good enough.” He would definitely go looking for the 5-year old. Finding that child would be the most important thing.
In the same way, God seeks after us when we are lost; even before we know we are lost He is already seeking after us. God isn’t waiting for us to “be good” before He acts.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Before we knew we needed help God had already taken action.
What Will You Leave Behind?
Going back to the parable I asked “M”, what if we switched it around and you were the shepherd, what is important enough in your life that you would abandon everything else to get this?
For him a restored relationship with his kids and his lady is what he desires the most. He regrets the years he lost being with them when he was in prison.
Mother Teresa said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”
This is “M”’s greatest desire and also his greatest fear.
- What if he messes up?
- What if he spends so much time working to provide for them that he isn’t home for them?
- What if he is too demanding?
What will he leave behind to find that which he had lost?
- His fear of appearing vulnerable
- His need for control
- His need to be busy
- His drive to be a good provider which in the past has meant chasing after money at the expense of spending time with his children
What will each of us leave behind?