They are the lost. The sick. The rejected. The hurt. The broken. Their numbers are large and they have no where to go. They travel to and fro, seeking a place to call their own. Searching in vain for a home. Everywhere they go, they are turned away, pitied, and scorned. Soon they find themselves on a desolate road in the middle of no where. Night has fallen. The trees cast long, ghostly shadows across their path. They come to a clearing a decide to camp for the night. They huddle together for warmth and try to find comfort in one another. Unfortunately for them, they are not alone. Danger lurks in the trees surrounding the group. Many eyes are on the group huddled together in the dark. They have the group outnumbered. Highly skilled and cunning, they slowly circle the group. Slowly and methodically they get into position and prepare to strike. A sudden snapping noise in the distance puts the group on alert. Fear soon envelopes the group and permeates the air. The scent of fear, fills the nostrils of the enemy that now surrounds the tired group. The enemy finds delight in the smell and knows that victory is at hand. With a victorious, war cry, the enemies leader gives the command to attack. In unison, these deadly predators emerge from the tree line and move menacingly toward the huddled masses. Panic soon engulfs the group and chaos follows. The group members that form the outer ring try desperately to enter the inner ring. Anything to escape the danger looming in front of them. Those in the inner ring quickly and forcefully push them back toward the outer ring. Others in the group try to make a run for it but are quickly picked off by the enemy. Their cries ring out in the night. The cries of their fallen companions heightens the panic of the group and spurns on the attack of the enemy. Slowly they move in close for the kill. They move in closer to the group, circling them slowly. They intimidate them and taunt them by nipping at the ankles of the weakest members in the outer ring. This move achieves the goal of sending the group over the edge of despair and careening into the chasm of hopelessness. Against all hope, the group cries our for help. Their cries resonate through the night and seemingly goes unheard. Desperate, they clamor over one another seeking a place of safety, but cannot find it. Seeing no other option save death, they lie down before the predators and await their fate.
Lost and abandoned.
Broken and defeated.
Devoid of all hope.
To make matters worse, there is a massive storm on the horizon. Pooling the last of their strength, several members of the group make one last, loud and sincere cry for help. They search the horizon to see if their cry was heard. The other members of the group that have given up scold the ones that cried out for help.
"Why are you being so stupid," they ask. "Can't you see that this is the end of us? Why are you calling attention to yourselves? It’s hopeless. No one can hear you out here. No one is coming to save you. Give up and accept your fate like we have.”
But something on the inside of the ones that cried out for help won’t let them give up. The words of their comrades only make them cry out harder and louder for help. Suddenly, the enemy make another pass at the group, this time aiming for one of the members that still has hope. Their plan, take out ones that still have hope, that still have some fight in them thereby killing all hope for the rest.
In a sudden dash, the enemy rushes in and grabs one of the hopeful by the arm and drags them out. The enemy forcefully pulls the hopeful to the ground and holds them in a death grip. The enemy bares its teeth menacingly. Drool drips from its muzzle and fire burns in its eyes. The hopeful can only stare, eyes frozen in fright as the teeth of the enemy inches close for the death blow.
Suddenly, from the edge of the darkness comes a burst of radiant light. The light pierces through the darkness and blinds the enemy. The sound of a horn rings through the night. It is the sound of battle and strikes fear in the heart of the enemy. The tables have turned. Now the enemy is stricken with fear as they strain to see where the light and the sound are coming from.
The words fill the air and reverberates off the trees. The words are spoken without fear and full of the highest authority. Overcome with fear, the enemy turns tale and runs for cover. Their prey quickly forgotten. The members of the group that had given up hope also grow fearful and cover their heads in fear. Whatever could strike fear in the hearts of their enemy could only spell trouble for them. They were gravely mistaken.
The hopeful move toward the light. They find comfort in it and there is something familiar about it. A still, quiet voice calls them by name. The voice is filled with love, compassion and joy. The hopeful are surprised to hear their names being called one by one. Overcome with hope and joy, they run toward the light and are pulled into a warm, loving embrace. Words of comfort, love and encouragement are showered upon them. They have finally found safety. Finally, they have found rest. Finally, they have found a place where they belong in the arms of “The Good Shepherd.”
Everyone at some point in his/her live has been in a situation similar to the one described above. We have all found ourselves lost and confused. We have all felt as if we are all alone. That no one understands the problems and pressures that we are going through. That no one cares whether we live or perish. As we travel the roads of life, we often feel the pressures of life breathing down our necks and nipping at our heels. Some make poor choices and these choices lead them down a path to destruction. Sometimes they become like the members of the hopeless. They give up, lay down, and wait for death to come. Others, although they too have made poor choices, know that it is not the end of the world. There is hope if they just trust and believe.
There is a good shepherd (Jesus) that still cares whether we live or die. He died for our pain, suffering and sin. He paid for our mistakes. And in spite of what we have done in life, He searches for us when we are lost. He will always welcome us with open arms. He will drive away all that seek to destroy us. He will dispel the darkness of sin with His marvelous light. He calls each of us by name and shelters us from the storm. For all this He asks for very little in return. All we have to do is trust and believe in Him. Do you trust Him?