Have you ever lost something valuable to you? I know I have! Most of the time I find it again., but sometimes it takes awhile before I find it. Once I lost my wedding rings and I had almost given up hope of finding them when I reached into the pocket of a sweatshirt and there they were. What a relief! I’ve lost my children a few times too – not often, just often enough to know how extremely scary it is!
Once when my son was a preschooler, I was almost in tears because I couldn’t find him anywhere. I even had the whole neighborhood helping me look for him! I was just ready to call 911 and report a missing child when I found him inside the neighbor’s house a couple of doors down from where we lived. I had been so scared and then was so relieved that I didn’t know whether to cry, yell, hug him or beat him! (I wouldn’t have really beat him, but the thought did cross my mind to ground him until he was at least 32!) I chose to hug him and to severely warn him not to ever leave the house or yard without first talking to me about it.
As a parent, I understand the concern the good shepherd felt when his little sheep was lost – the careful searching, looking everywhere and then looking in those same places again and again in case he missed seeing the little lamb the first time. And then there was the extreme joy and relief when the little one was found. The joy of finding the sheep erased the worry and fear felt when he was lost. The story of the lost sheep is familiar to most of us! It’s easy to think of it as a good children’s story; a story that we know and even love, yet we read it way too fast!
Take some time this week to read it through again – slowly. Feel the tension of the shepherd when he discovers his sheep is missing. Imagine where he might have looked. How long do you think it took him to find the lost one? The shepherd didn’t stop looking until the sheep was found. He didn’t give up! Imagine the extreme joy he felt when he found the lost sheep and the celebration he had when he brought the sheep home. I think he partied after he found his sheep. I think he called his friends and neighbors and said, “I found him! He’s okay. He’s back at home safe and sound.”
I wonder too, how the little sheep felt when he was lost? Was he lonesome, scared, scratched and bruised? Perhaps he went on what he thought was going to be a great adventure, but then he found himself just a little too far away to hear the shepherd’s voice. Before he knew it, night came and he didn’t know how to find his way home.
Lost or found, which are you? If you are found, rejoice and celebrate. God loves you and is with you. You are safe in His care, close to His heart and within range of His voice. If you are feeling lost and alone, call out to God, He’s looking for you and He’s listening for your cry of help. You may have ventured too far to hear the shepherd voice, but I can assure you, if you call out, He will hear you. Perhaps you’re one of the sheep safe in the fold anxiously waiting for the little lost one to come home, don’t give up hope. Talk to God about that lost one and prepare to celebrate because when the lost is found, there is joy and celebration.
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
I know that you are the good shepherd and that you care for us, your sheep, with tender, loving care. No matter where I am at or what I am doing, you know where I am and you call out for me. You want to lead me safely home again when I’m lost. You also care about those we know who are lost. Perhaps it’s one of our own children or a close friends who is lost and alone. Maybe they don’t even realize that you are looking for them. They don’t know who you are or that they can call out to you. For these who are lost, I cry out to you, Lord. Show them how very much they are loved. In the midst of their pain, their hopelessness, their lostness, call out to them. I thank you that you love them more than I do and that you are relentlessly looking for them to lead them back home. Thank you for looking for me when I’ve been lost. Thank you that you didn’t give up on me, but that you kept calling me. Thank you for Jesus, your Son. Through Him you have provided the way for us to have relationship with you. If there is a way that I can show your love to a little lost sheep, then show me how, Lord. I want to share your hope and grace wherever I go. Amen
TIPS FOR KIDS WHEN LOST
* Stay where you are at.
* Call out your mom and dad’s name. It’s okay to shout.
* Learn your mom and dad’s phone number so you can call them or have someone call them.
* If you are lost inside a store, ask someone at the checkout counter for help.
* Ask God to help you know what to do.
TIPS IF YOUR CHILD GETS LOST
* Talk about some things your child can do if they get lost. Assure them if they ever become lost or separated from you, you will be close by.
* Teach your kids your full name so that if they are lost they can tell a safe adult – a cashier at a store, policeman, a mom with kids – who they are and who you are.
* Sew contact information into your kids clothes or give them an ID bracelet with that information to wear.
* Talk about a safety plan – if lost in a supermarket, go to the first check stand
you see or if lost somewhere else such as an amusement park, stay where you are at so your parents will have a better idea where to look for you.
* For older children, you may wish to let them have a phone they can call you on when at an amusement park or somewhere where they might get separated from you.
* For older children, decide on a meet-up location if they become separated from you.
* In a classroom situation or if you have more than one child, use the buddy system and pair up the children so that they can help keep track of each other. Pairing a younger child with an older sibling is helpful as the older child may have a better idea of what to do.
The Lost Sheep – Luke 15:4-6
Once there was a shepherd who had 100 sheep. – (Count – 97, 98, 99 …)
He counted to see all were safe and sound,
Each night before he went to sleep. – (Pretend to go to sleep.)
One night as the shepherd was counting, – (Count again.)
His 100 sheep he found,
A little lamb was missing,
“Oh no!” he said as he began to look around. – (Look surprised!)
The shepherd looked for his lamb, – (Pretend to look for the lamb.)
In all the places little lambs like to go.
The shepherd looked here, The shepherd looked there, – (Look from one side to the other.)
The shepherd looked high and low. – (Look up and down.)
In the pasture, by the water, behind every tree,
The shepherd looked everywhere,
Oh, where could that little lamb be? – (Throw hands out to sides.)
The shepherd didn’t stop looking, – (Put hand up in front of you for Stop!)
Until that one, little lamb he did see. – (Smile, say, “Yeah!”)
Then he picked him up and carried him home, – (Pretend to carry the lamb.)
Where He celebrated happily! – (Blow party horn and say, “Yeah!”)
God is like that shepherd. He loves and cares for you. – ( Give self a hug.)
No matter where you go, no matter what you do,
God, your good shepherd, will always care for you.
If you are ever lost or alone, you can be sure, God will find you, forgive you and be with you. You are never, ever alone because He is with you everywhere. He is always listening and you can talk to Him anytime in prayer.
MEMORIZE: Psalm 139:14 NIrV – (Hold hands as though holding a book.)
How you – (Point upwards.)
Made me – (Point to self)
Is amazing – (Hold up closed fists then open hands wide.)
And wonderful – (Jump up and down with hands in the air.)
Thank you that you love and care for me just like a shepherd. Help me to remember that I can always talk to you any time. I love you. Amen
TO KNOW: God love me like a shepherd loves his sheep. Jesus is my good shepherd and my forever friend.
TO TALK ABOUT: People who take care of us.
TO ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.
AND DO: Talk to Jesus because He loves me.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- Use conversation prayers to talk to God all during the day. “Thank you, God for a new day.” “Where’s my shoe, God? Can you help me find it?” Thank you for loving me, God. I love you too.”
- Hide a stuffed lamb for your child to find. When he/she finds it, take a moment to say, “God loves you just like a shepherd loves his sheep. You are very special to me and to God.”
- For Older Siblings: Ask your child, “What does it mean to care for someone? How does God care for us?” Encourage your child to write down ways that God shows His care – such as giving us good food to eat, listening to our prayers, telling us He loves us in the Bible, etc.