A couple months ago a post appeared on my community Face Book page, ‘Finding Tiny Alfie’. Now it’s not unusual to see posts about a lost pet, but this one caught my attention as I followed it over the next few days. Now when you look at Alfie, he isn’t a particularly famous dog, he’s kinda cute, a Jack Rusell bitsa but definitely not a pedigree show dog. What makes Alfie special though is that his owners love him to bits, and they were worried about what had happened to him. All they wanted was to find him and bring him home to where he belonged, safe and sound. They were determined to find him and were not going to give up.
One thing that stood out was the way the community got behind finding Alfie. There were people volunteering to join the search, others posted potential sightings and plenty of encouraging and supportive comments.
That same persistence and determination is at the heart of the story Jesus tells about a shepherd who puts everything on the line, leaving the 99 behind to find the lost one. It’s a story about God, about God’s persistent, dogged and determined love that would stop at nothing to get us back home.
Not because we are anything particularly special, but because God loves us to bits and just wants to have us safe and sound where we belong. For God, no one is too far away, too bad, too broken, too lost. God never says, ‘I can’t be bothered’, ‘it’s not worth it, too hard, I give up’. His love drives him to give up everything on the cross for our sake.
Alfie’s story has a happy ending! He was found and returned home to where he was loved and. I imagine there were plenty of cuddles on the couch and special treats. The next day, anyone who wanted to meet Alfie was invited to come along to a café and meet him in person and share the joy. That’s how the story Jesus tells ends too. The lost sheep is found, carried home in the shepherd’s arms and then comes the party as he calls his mates and neighbours to share the joy. It’s God’s joy when anyone is brought safely back home, back to where we all belong, back in the love and care of our Father.
Pastor of Ministry and Formation