Leaving the One to Go Back to the Ninety-Nine


“If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep becomes lost, then the man will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill. He will go to look for the lost sheep. Right? And if the man finds the lost sheep, the man is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I tell you the truth. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost. Matthew 18:12-14

I’ve always liked the idea of this story. That the God pursues us relentlessly until we are home but there’s practical side of me that bring up this question in my mind. If the man in the story goes off to find the one lost sheep, who’s staying behind with the ninety-nine? Who will care for them?

Now I know God is capable to watching over all. The 99 and the one who’s wandered because well, He’s GOD. But still, there’s this sense of a call to action in the story. Like if someone we love is wandering and needs help, we need to do whatever we can to bring them back, right?

A while back I came across this post by Sarah Mae, in it she described how she recalled this parable of the man leaving the 99 for the 1 and she felt called to leave her platform for a while to go after the heart of her one; her young daughter Caroline.

Her post really struck something in me because I was dealing with a child that was needed of my attention and I could relate. I needed to try to go after my one as well.

Now, over a year later I’ve realized that there are times when like the man WE may be called to leave our ninety-nine for the one; the one person in our lives who may need extra attention. The ONE relationship that may need healing, the ONE area of our lives that may require extra focus.  But this there are also times when the Lord calls us to  surrender our ONES to the Him and go back to the ninety-nine.

Please hear me; I don’t mean leave, abandon or forget the one. I mean that there are times when there is only so much to give in our limited human strength and we must realize that the other ninety-nine; they need us too.

Right now I’m dealing with a prodigal child; my one. And I love him so dearly I don’t even have words to express the love I have for this child. However, I have three others, and a husband, friends, extended family, ministry responsibilities, etc. I have neglected these other “99” in the past because this child has consumed my time and energy and I’m now realizing that my little lamb has gone past the pasture where I can get to him right now.

I need return to the rest of the flock. They need me.

This is hard because my flock will never feel complete until my one has returned; but he’s wandered past the place where I can get to him on my own. It is not I who can bring Him back. Right now he’s wandering; lost. And I can’t heal all his hurts and I can’t force him back.

And this is tough because I have been given much and I want to be a good steward of my flock; I want to love them all well. And then there’s guilt. . .

Always, with the guilt trying to creep in. The voices, the should haves and if onlys. If I had done things differently. . .  But they’re all lies because the the truth is that sheep wander.

We all wander.

But while I as a human being; as a mom am limited in time and physical resources there is a Master Shepherd who will NEVER tire of going after that one. There is nothing that can stand in His way and no distance He won’t go for a lost one.

And not just my ONE but yours too whoever or whatever it might be.

Maybe your ONE is also a loved one but maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s a circumstance, a relationship, a health issue. Something that has been taking up all of your time and energy. All of your resources and you feel worn. You’ve given it all and put the rest of your life on hold while tending to this ONE. But now could it be time to surrender your  ONE to the True Shepherd who can go distances beyond where you and I can go?

I can return to my ninety-nine because my hope is in the Lord, the Good Shepherd the one willing to die even for his flock. I trust that He is more than capable of caring for my ONE. I know my lamb is safe in His care. And the truth is that no matter how great my joy will be when he returns, the Lord’s will be even greater still.

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. Isaiah 40:11

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  1. Zohary this is so true. I pray for you as you take care of those 99 and I pray for that one who strayed with you, also; just as I know you do for me. Blessings, mama!

  2. Zohary, I love this. You have echoed my heart today. I know where you are. Your post fits so perfectly with the one I posted today. Thank you for sharing – it has encouraged me!

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