PASTOR'S PEN: Lost in the woods

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Matthew 18:12

This past weekend I experienced just that. We took our youth group to Mud Lake for a campout. It was a great time and involved a lot of bonding. It also displayed our concern for one another and shined a light on those who were quick to volunteer to seek out their lost family.

After breakfast Saturday morning, we went for a hike through the trails carved out around Mud Lake. We had gone a little distance and stopped for a rest when two girls needed to use the restroom. They were told to go ahead to do so and then wait for us to get there. But like so many of us when our Father tells us what to do, they didn’t listen. They continued to walk up the trail farther and farther from the group, a trail that became less and less obvious. Eventually they found themselves with nowhere left to go.

Our group had been coming up the trail and finally arrived at the end of our hike, prepared to turn around and head back; but the two girls who had been sent a little bit ahead earlier weren’t anywhere around. One of the leaders became very worried. I, myself, was probably more angry at them for not listening.

We had a few older teens who quickly volunteered to help in the hunt for the two lost girls. We left the majority of the group under a cherry tree while our guide went ahead to look for them, two others went back to see if they could be found as myself and another went down a split in the trail. They were eventually, thankfully, found, and though relieved to find them, they did get some stern warnings and were given several jobs throughout the rest of the afternoon as reminders to listen and obey.

I know there are many times I wander off the trail that God has set in place. I don’t obey His Word and get lost, far from Him. Rather than heading back, I keep going deeper into the abyss. Yet my Father doesn’t give up. Despite the fact that I’m the one who made the stupid mistake, He comes after me. Yes, there will probably be some consequence, guilty feelings and regret; but the fact is the Father cares for me and desires to see me in the fold.

Thank the Father today for His loving care and next time you consider wandering off, think of those two girls in woods and make the wise decision to obey the Guide who truly knows what He’s talking about.