Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ninety-nine and One

I dreamt in hymns all night. Everything was a familiar song with a new taste. I took my hunger outside to wait for the sun. Instead of the porch of the old cabin, my aging stilts took me across the field. The grass at the cabin is much greener, but today, I was to travel through the treated field where the weeds once grew. Death crunched beneath my feet and I stopped to look for new life under all the hinderance, to see where the green field lies. I turned and looked around at the valley below, shadowed by the clouds for now, but I knew the sun was rising so I faced it again. Tempted to go back for sleeve to cover my bare arms, my feet didn't budge. It would be worth the wait, and I didn't want to miss a moment, even if it meant standing before a cloud. My eyes closed as soon as the light broke and a smile lifted my face. My back met the heat as I turned again to the valley. There was a shine upon the land. Flowers and trees lifted in praise and I thought of church. The service I had not intended on going to, the one overshadowed with earthly duties and the flesh of tired bones. Guilt, shame and conviction eventually drove me back to that little white church, and the desire for more...

I saw hands going up, one by one. I was on my pew, feeling That Touch. New voices rang through the church this day, this night, and though they had been there before, they were different this time. The piano soon became still as the singers escorted our attention to the front. They walked up with nothing more than the sound of their own voices to offer, but they were doing it for Him...and they gave what they had. Tears welled forth, and that is all I could offer my Lord, a scanty thank you for someone who has given so much to me, despite my fleshly worth. 

Inhaling a deep breath, I lifted my arms, said nothing to the world around me, but yet He still heard it all. Tears rolled from my eyes as I walked toward my house. I wanted my Bible. I have barely read any of it, lacking the deep roots needed for comprehension, but my feet walked on. When I came back outside, I had a Bible, and an old hymnal, and I still didn't understand why. I took rest upon the old cabin's porch and opened the hymnal. The words, "The Ninety and Nine" were right in front of me. My eyes exploded with grateful tears and it became hard to see through them, but He knew what He was doing. Suddenly, the sheep gathered at Sunday morning's service, made sense.

I could smell the cedar from the once stored-away book and the tanned page waited patiently for me to read the words. I had never heard of the song before so I read softly aloud,
"Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine; Are they not enough for Thee?" But the Shepherd made answer: "This of mine Has wandered away from me, and although the road be rough and steep, I go to the desert to fine my sheep. I go to the desert to find my sheep."
"Lord whence are those blood-drops all the way that mark out the mountain's track?" "They were shed for one who had gone astray Ere the Shepherd could bring him back."
"Lord whence are thy hands so rent and torn?" "They're pierced tonight by many a thorn. They're pierced tonight by many a thorn."
But all through the mountains, thunder riven and up from the rocky steep, There rose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven, "Rejoice! I have found my sheep!"

Crying and laughing at the same time, I knew He was leading me to the Bible story of the 99 and 1 but I didn't know where to look. I closed my eyes and spoke the words, "Show me Lord." The word Luke presented itself but instead, I needed to turn to Mark, so I did just that. I began to read the parables and my eyes were clear. They darted and locked on every single word rather than the usual flow. I knew He had purpose and I hung on the intent of every word. I began to understand. Sowing seeds on stony ground will hold no root, the sun will scorch and wither it away. The ones sown on good ground, will yield fruit and increase. I had went to bed last night with disappointment on my heart for the ones who bow down to earthly things. Those that worship chosen lifestyles, chosen professions, whatever that may be. They walk for tangibles rather than walk with their own Maker, their own Lord and Savior, so I needed to hear that this day, and He gave it all to me. Taking care of your earthly possessions is one thing, but bowing down to them, giving them your all, instead of giving to Him can wither the soul. The soil isn't deep enough to plant your hope in earthly things. Often the seeds that matter, get planted atop rocks and I needed to remember which seeds belong where, and He gave me that.

I turned over to Luke 15 and read of the sheep, the one that was lost. These days it often seems like there are fewer and fewer of the 99. It seems like everywhere I look, I see a lost sheep. It is a struggle everyday to walk through the desert. It's not within my flesh to brave the rocky steep, to walk within thunder to seek the lost sheep. It's not within my flesh to wrap my arms around the one that is lost, to bring it back, to show it the way Home. But The Lord has renewed my purpose. I could stay home, hide from the sheep and pretend I don't hear their cry and wait cowardly, hoping they'll find Home on their own. I could pretend I don't see the wither of those nearby, that I don't hear the dry mouths that speak but denying their thirst when I know where the water is, withers me too. I have to answer for that. HE is so very Worthy to face the thorns. But I believe in Him, I know where the good ground lies. I know where the seeds belong, and by giving them water when they thirst, they WILL bare fruit, and show increase. I am Blessed this morning, thank You Lord for the sun [Son], thank You for the seeds, thank You for the good ground...and most of all, thank you for showing me the ways of a shepherd...for I once was the one lost.

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