My children love the Shaun the Sheep movie. Of course, by “my children” I mean me as well. It is an enjoyable take on what can happen when sheep decide to stop listening to their shepherd and start making their own decisions. As you might expect, what started out as simply the desire for a day off turns into a disaster, but it is out of a deep love for their caretaker that Shaun and his friends risk life and limb to go save the farmer who is lost in the Big City.
As I reread the Gospel lesson and pray the Collect for Sunday, I can’t help but think about the ways in which I’m a lot more like Shaun the Sheep than I am the kind of sheep the Good Shepherd is talking about. Sure, I can listen, but sometimes I’m not very good at it. And learning to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd in the midst of a cacophony of voices that would pull me in a million different directions can be difficult. There are often times that I go my own way. Like Shaun and his friends, my desire isn’t necessarily a bad one, sometimes a day off is really required, but when I follow that good intention, it can have disastrous results.
Thankfully, God’s love is stronger than my poor choices. Thankfully, the Good Shepherd has stated his intention to leave the 99 behind to find me. Thankfully, God continues to call out my name, again and again, until I’m able to hear his voice and return to the flock. Each time that happens, and it happens more often than I care to admit, it is the sheer force of the Good Shepherd’s faithfulness that brings me home. I’m an expert at getting lost, but God is even better at restoring relationships, between God and me, and between me and the other sheep in the flock. I may be prone to wander, but thanks be to God, the Good Shepherd is just as prone to seek me out, and call my name to bring me home.