AUTHOR Lindsay Preston. ARTWORK Milly Jones.
One sheep out of a hundred. One coin out of ten. The younger of two precious sons. Lost.
Sheep usually stick with the flock, but if one somehow gets separated, a good shepherd will act quickly. The stray will bleat its heart out wandering, winding intermittently. Very vulnerable to predators.
Have you ever lost a coin? Or something else that mattered so deeply you even wept? I have.
And oh, the anguish that comes with a missing son. Lost literally in a far country. Lost spiritually after squandering his inheritance, bent to the mud in a stranger’s field, eating with the stranger’s pigs.
For all three, the one whose heart was torn the most – the keeper – went ardently seeking. When the missing was finally found, instant invitations were issued to friends and neighbours to join the celebration. Even angels rejoiced!
As for the broken son—not only did the father embrace him, kiss him – he immediately called for the best robe to be placed on him, a ring on his finger, and new shoes for the shoeless feet. The remorseful son was restored to his former place at the family table, free to eat to his heart’s delight the fatted calf.
Recently, after waking in the wee hours, moved by such unconditional, unending grace, I teared up thinking on my own wanderings. The many days I strayed, the times I questioned, the times I rebelled like a heedless son squandering his inheritance.
The nights I walked away from the mud with mud still on me. And every time. Every time. Our Heavenly Father was waiting with open arms. Out of these thoughts came the following poem.
THERE IS JUST NO END
My tears are written on your scroll
I’m engraved upon your palm.
without limit –
was mine to bear,
but you bore it.
You rejoiced over me in song.
It is also written,
Seventy times seven I was your stray sheep,
that one lost coin –
the returning prodigal so willing to eat your crumbs.
there is just no end to
the number of your fatted calves.