Matthew 18: 10 – 14
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?  And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.  So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

 
The passage above is a famous one. 
We evangelical Christians invoke it often when we are discussing the love of Christ.  The idea that God will seek out just one of us is moving and meaningful.  We tend to take the passage very personally (because, clearly, it’s all about ME) and picture Jesus seeking us out before we knew him or whenever we’re lost and doubting.
 
Last night, however, my wife and I lived, acted out, the other side of this passage.
 
The Ninety-Nine
 
Parenting has shown me the depth of God’s love through experiencing my own love for my son and our adoption process to bring him home.  God loves me infinitely more than I love Isaiah and I get to see a glimpse of that love as my heart breaks for my son.  I’ve called him my Dragon because he was a mythical, unattainable desire that God fulfilled.
 
Last night Candice and I sat down with our dragon and talked to him about his brother, our second dragon. 
 
“Mama and Papa are going to leave soon to go get brother.  We’ve all been waiting for brother for a long time, and he’ll be here soon.  Laura and Daryn and Grandma Janie will be watching you.  Mama and Papa love you and we love brother Enoch too.  We’ll be back soon; we’re just going to be gone for a little while.”
 
Isaiah was, and is, legitimately happy to see his brother.  But his pleading response was:
 
“I want to go with you! Stay with me!  Don’t go!  I’m going to miss you when you’re gone.”
 
found dragon
And my soul remembered the one sheep lost in the mountains.  And my heart broke for my little dragon.
 
In the metaphor Jesus tells, He or God the Father is the Good Shepherd, and as I apply it, Candice and I are modeling the love of God. The story doesn’t tell us how the shepherd cared for the sheep while he was gone.  It doesn’t tell us how much they missed him or if they were extra excited to see him walking back with their lost little brother. 

The metaphor breaks down in that God is omnipresent and omniscient, regardless, the story doesn’t address how hard it was for the shepherd to leave the ninety-nine sheep.
This experience gives Candice and me new perspective on God’s love for the lost sheep.  He loves the one enough to leave the ninety-nine.  He loves the one enough to endure the pain of separation. 
 
I’ve been thinking and writing and sharing for over three years, this idea that our love for our son, Isaiah, is a picture of the love that the True and Heavenly Father has for us.  I’ve shared that our great God gave us a Dragon to show us how great of a Father he is and to teach us to love like Him.  And now this has taken a turn, now there is a new twist to this story.  Our dragon has become a sheep, safe in the fold, and the Giver of Dragons beckons us to go search the mountains across the sea for another promised dragon.
 
It takes faith to tell our little sheep that we’re leaving.  God kept our dragon safe for three years before we met him, but it’s oh so hard to leave him now that he’s a precious sheep. 
 
To leave requires trust, not just in the friends and family that are willing to watch him, but in the loving Father who is always watching him, who is always watching all of us.
 
 
 
 

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