I don’t know about you girls, but I have a lot of purses.
I have them in several colors. Brown, black, white, red, blue, teal, and peach. I have them in several different styles. The kind with multiple pockets, the kind with a loop to keep it closed at the top, the kind that have a zipper to close it all the way up, and the tote kind that allow all the contents to spill to the ground when it tips over. I also have a small fancy one for the occasional night out. And, I even have one that is baseball themed.
But a few weeks ago, I wanted one of my purses that I could not find. It is a cross-body bag with a fun spring print. I needed it to travel with, and nothing else would do. It was the perfect purse for the occasion. And it was missing.
I searched the “usual” place where I keep all my purses and I came up empty handed. So, I searched in “un-usual” places for it. I searched the closet in the spare room. I dug through the coat closet in the hall. I crawled down and looked under my bed. All with no luck!
Now you know from my account above that I have no shortage of purses. I have several to choose from. But that day, the only one that would do, was the spring patterned cross-body purse. So, I kept searching.
In Luke chapter 18, we find Jesus telling the parable (or story told to illustrate a spiritual or moral lesson) of the lost sheep. “Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Jesus told this parable because the Pharisees and teachers of the law were harassing Him for spending time with tax collectors and sinners. This is something Jesus did often. (When you look for it in scripture, you will find Jesus consistently turning social norms upside down. Jesus treated people the right way, the way He wants us to treat them, regardless of how others felt about it). Jesus was making a point with this parable. The ninety-nine sheep were fine where they were. They had each other. They had a shepherd to watch over them. They were safe there.
Why would a busy shepherd leave ninety-nine sheep alone and unprotected to go and search for one lost sheep that had left the flock? He was responsible for those sheep. Why wouldn’t he just be thankful that he still had ninety-nine sheep and cut his losses? Why risk it?
Well, why didn’t I just use one of my other purses that day instead of looking tirelessly for the spring patterned cross-body bag?
Because that (silly) purse, and that (lost) sheep are important.
It was the solo sheep that needed rescue. That sheep was outside careful watch of the shepherd. It was alone and unprotected. That sheep needed to be brought back into the pen where the shepherd could care for it and keep it safe.
That sheep was me.
That sheep was you.
And now the parable makes sense doesn’t it? Jesus is the shepherd, and you and I are the lost sheep. We were outside of the safety and protection of the pen and the shepherd. This parable illustrates the message that you and I are important to God.
So important that He sent His only Son to come and find us. God desires that we are cared for. That we are safe. That we be saved.
Let’s remember John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God sent His one and only Son to find us, to bring us back into the safety of pen.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The lost sheep, that’s us.
If you and I were just part of a mass crowd, and did not possess individual worth, then why would God go to so much trouble and sacrifice for us? Why wouldn’t He just cut His losses and stay to care for the all the other sheep? The truth is, God does see us as individuals and of importance to Him. He will leave the ninety-nine to come and find us and bring us into the safety and care of The Shepherd.
Psalm 139:13-18 speaks to our individual uniqueness. Verse 13 in particular, shows that we are each created differently. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”.
Have you ever seen someone knitting? It is a labor of love. Each stitch is carefully planned out and intentional. The knitter must pay close attention as they knit, to get all the stitches even and just right. No two knitted items can be identical, because they are hand crafted by the knitter.
God says that He knit us together in our mothers’ womb! Stitch by stitch, cell by cell, heartbeat by heartbeat and feature by feature. No two fingerprints, faces, DNA sequences, or personalities are identical. We are intentionally and meticulously hand crafted by The Father.
We are each unique and created by God, He values us individually and will search for us when we are lost. Much like me searching for my spring themed cross-body bag (except with far more passion)!
If you have ever had the thought “How can God even care about me personally? I am one of so many billions of people?” I assure you that He does! Scripture says that He created you. A creator knows their work better than anyone else ever could. A creator is involved in each step, each detail within the creative process. A creator never forgets a single detail of their masterpiece!
When you and I feel unimportant and unloved by the world, or by those around us, we can rest in the certainty that we are important to and loved by our Creator.
We are important enough to Him that He sent Jesus to come and find us. Yes! We are loved by Him as His unique creation. What others say to us, or about us, will never hold more weight than the words of our Creator toward us.
You are who God says you are.
You are loved–Jeremiah 31:3
You are forgiven—1 John 1:9
You are accepted–Romans 15:7
You are a new creation—2 Corinthians 5:17
You are chosen–John 15:16
You are treasured–Deuteronomy 14:2
You are precious—Isaiah 43:4
You are strong—Isaiah 40:31
You are not alone—Matthew 28:20
You are unique—Psalm 139:13
And you are important—1 Peter 2:9
Words matter. The words we speak about ourselves matter. No good can come from believing negative things about ourselves. This sort of false humility does not please God. He desires for us to KNOW that we are valued and loved. Because when we KNOW that truth, we can pass that truth on to others. That they might be drawn to Him and know His love too.
You and I have a mission, to know Jesus and to make Him known. It is important that we have some basic truths right in our hearts and minds so that we can effectively share the hope the that He offers.
I encourage you to look back through the posts in this series. Get your bible out and highlight the verses mentioned. Write a sentence or two after each one describing how that truth impacts you.
Here are a few of the truths we talked about in this series:
Since we have Christ in us, we are a totally new creation. We are not recycled or repurposed, but remade!
Embracing what God says to be true about you will help you feel secure when the attacks and opinions of others threaten to dismantle your peace.
When we seek our core acceptance from God, it is only then that we can be fully satisfied.
God has created billions of people so far, and His word says that each one is His masterpiece!
God wants us to remember that He is our strength, and that nothing the enemy throws at us is bigger than what He can handle.
There is no relationship more important than the one we have with God through Jesus. It is because of Jesus’s perfect sacrifice that we can have forgiveness and enjoy connection and peace with God!
Sister in Christ, beloved child of God, be careful to let your Creator define who you are. Our enemy the devil seeks to destroy us, but Jesus came that we may have life to the fullest. Let Him give you identity.
Let Him redefine you with His love.
(If you are dying to know, yes, I did find the spring themed cross-body bag….eventually!)