What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go in search of the one that is lost? And if it turns out that he finds it, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be lost.
The statistics are staggering. Every year in this country, thousands of kids run away from home. For one reason or another, they think that it would be better for them to be on their own somewhere else. What they likely find is homelessness and addiction. These are young people who are neither prepared nor equipped to make it on their own as they have no resources and no plan. What remains at home are broken families. Even for parents with six or seven children, having one of them leave without a trace is devastating. Although overjoyed by the children who remain at home, they cannot help but be ruined for the one who is no longer there. Homes that were once full and complete now feel empty for the loss of only one.
I have never herded sheep, and I likely will never do so. If I were to be a shepherd, I would expect it to be very difficult to keep track of 100 sheep at one time. I cannot say that I would notice if one or two were to go astray just because of the sheer volume of animals. Our Father in heaven, however, does not have this problem. He is able to concentrate on each and every one of us and know our every move. When we read that He is willing to leave the 99 to go in search of the one, it draws an image of completion. The shepherd with 100 sheep has a full flock. Although 99 is almost 100, it simply is not the same. Perhaps God seeks out the one because his desire is for his kingdom to be complete. Perhaps without you or without me his kingdom would be incomplete.
When Jesus gave this parable, He was highlighting the importance of each and every one of us in God’s kingdom. Our Father in heaven is passionate to keep us as his children. He has made a place for each of us in his kingdom and in his plan. When one of us goes astray, we are missed because we are loved and needed. God desires fulfillment of his kingdom design, and we are part of that design. If He has made a place for each of us in his kingdom, we should expect that He would desire every one of those spots to be filled. He wants each of us to be present and accounted for because each matters as much as the rest. Father, thank You for the role You have for us in your plan, and thank You for seeking us to make sure we remain a part of your kingdom.