Step into the Garden
I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your promises.
Ever felt like a lost sheep? Alone, all tangled up in the morass of your mistakes and wrongheaded decisions? Feeling really, really stupid and small?
Well? . . . maybe you are! A lost sheep, that is. Maybe the eraser on the end of your pencil is so worn down that you feel and hear its metal encasement scrape against the paper of life. You’re mistake prone, stupid, small and alone. Aren’t you?
Depends on who’s looking.
Suppose it’s you? Suppose you are the one looking. How hard is it to amp up self-condemnation? Not very. You say, you are your own worst critic; a cliché designed to mollify the huge negative, emotional impact of thinking of yourself as nothing more than a dipstick for a used-up camel. Somewhere along the freeway, you just up and stepped out of the car, and life went on, leaving you spinning on the pavement.
Suppose it’s someone else? Someone has rejected you, provided input that makes you feel small, like personal criticism, fired you from a job, etc. I can’t think of anyone who looks upon mean-spirited, hate or ridicule-driven accusation and criticism, as something to be coveted. The ancient ditty about “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” is 180 out – to put it timidly. All of us know people whose lives have been utterly destroyed by destructive, harm-intended words.
Suppose it’s God? Now. This is the all-consuming knife that really cuts. If you think that God has rejected you, if you believe that God loves others, but not you; somewhere in this storm called human existence, you surely must have committed the big ‘U,’ (the ‘unpardonable’ sin.) These thoughts will destroy not only one’s life, they can destroy one’s soul. You are lying on life’s path wounded and bleeding, and unlike the good Samaritan, and more like a self-righteous priest, God looks upon you with disgust, turns away, and crosses the street, just to pass you by.
You are a lost sheep indeed. Caught, lost and alone in the thorns of self-loathing, accused and condemned by others, so much so that even God forsakes you.
Touched a nerve, yet?
Struggle, if you must, with your agony, with your pain. But if you can disengage just for a moment, and come to stillness, you may hear, you just might hear -- footsteps coming in your direction. You just might feel the nearness of his love. You just might feel the thorns and brambles being removed from around your body, from around your head. You just might feel the oil of the Spirit being poured into your wounds. You just might feel yourself lifted, caressed, comforted, forgiven.
The pain is gone.
You have been found.