Like a Lost Sheep

Sheep may be the most defenseless, vulnerable creatures on earth; they tend to die when they roll over, unable to get up, and when they get lost, since their primary defense is in being part of a herd. The very brain of the sheep is hardwired to follow other sheep, so isolated sheep become agitated, and when one sheep goes off in a bad direction, the rest will likely follow.

We’re all like sheep in that we’ve all gone astray, turned from the right way, to live our own way. (Is 53:6) Even the godly Psalmist admits this (Ps 119:176a), asking Jehovah, his shepherd (Ps 23:1), to seek him (176b), grounding his request in the fact that he has kept hold of God’s commandments; he has not forgotten them. (176c)

Asking God to seek us when we aren’t keeping His commands in our hearts, trying to obey Him the best we know how, is nonsense — like a man pleading to be rescued while resisting and fending off his rescuer, trying desperately to get away — it’s a contradiction. We don’t even want to be found if we’re not already obeying God the best we know how; this kind of seeking is just the carnal mind playing tricks, not wanting to be reconciled with God at all, just wanting to avoid the tragic consequences of rebellion. (Ge 4:13)

Yet we can easily go astray, even as we’re keeping God’s commands in view. We can be dull in our understanding of God’s Way (Ps 73:22), unable to fully perceive even as we’re trying our best (1Co 8:2), incapable of detecing our own blind spots. (Re 3:17) Ignorance not only blinds us (Ep 4:18), it blinds us to our very blindness. (Jn 9:40-41)

In our lostness we’re thus truly lost; like a lost sheep, we’re utterly unable to find our way back to God on our own. (Ro 7:24) We’ve only one hope: that God Himself will rescue us (25a) as we serve His law with our minds as best we can (25b), in spite of the insidious nature of our old man. (25c) It’s not a vain hope though, it’s a valid one: God finds all who seek Him. (He 11:6)

Seeking God is seeking truth wherever we can find it: in the Word, in science, in history, and in others. Thoughtful perspective in others is particularly helpful; all of us see things a bit differently, perceiving things about each other and the world that the rest of us miss. We should value differing opinion like gold, asking others to challenge our thinking and looking carefully at their reasoning. What are we still missing? The slightest indication that we aren’t fully aligned with reality at every level of our consciousness is a window to more truth; we should jump at the opportunity to climb through it.

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