One morning an elderly man was walking on a nearly deserted beach. He came upon a boy surrounded by thousands and thousands of starfish. As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.
Puzzled, the older man looked at the young boy and asked, “Little boy, what are you doing?”
The youth responded without looking up, “I’m trying to save these starfish, sir.”
The old man chuckled aloud, and queried, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
Holding a starfish in his hand, the boy turned to the man and, gently tossing the starfish into the water, said, “It will make a difference to that one!”
“But when He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest is truly plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matt 9:36-38
“…If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Matt 18:12-14
O that we could see the value of just one soul. Even Jesus himself looked upon the multitudes and in His humanity knew that he alone could not meet each need. He prayed for labourers- Shepherds willing to take the time needed to help that one soul. We may not be able to reach multitudes, but if each of us took under one soul and took the time and compassion to nurture that soul, we can know that we have brought in a sheave for the Lord. We made a difference in that one life.
The multitudes… made up of individuals with different backrounds, different heartaches, needs, fears and concerns- all fainting and weary because they had no shepherd. They had no one that would guide them, care for them shelter and protect them; lead them to green pastures and cool clean water; bind up their wounds; draw them close enough to develop a lasting relationship with them.
The sheep know the voice of their shepherd. They have learned to trust him.
But a sheep with no shepherd is prey to the hungry wolves and subject to poisonous forage and wandering about looking for water… fainting and weary.
When Jesus looks upon a soul, he looks past their sin-stained life, their dirty unkempt garment. What does he see? A beloved lamb!
See Him tenderly take the lamb up in his arms and carry it close to His bosom; a place of compassion, love and affection. See Him carry the dying sheep home to the rest of the fold, washing his fleece, pouring ointment into it’s wounds and binding him up. See him carefully introducing the new and healthful food, a little at a time till he has the strength to eat more. See him leading the lamb to the cool, clear water. The little lamb is scared and insecure. The rest of the flock is healthy and strong; but this little lamb is skinny and wounded from wandering about. Yet he is learning to trust the good Shepherd. This all feels so good. He listens for the shepherds voice. When he is afraid he runs to Him, this great-hearted caretaker. Trust is being established. Over time the lamb gets fatter and more vibrant. Soon you cannot tell that he was ever any different than the rest of the flock. But all this didn’t happen overnight. It took time, patience, labor, compassion and and vision. A vision of the value of one soul!
“But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an Inn, and took care of him…Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:33, 34, 37
I hailed me a woman from the street, Shameless, but oh so fair!
I bade her sit in the models seat and painted her sitting there.
I his all trace of her heart unclean; I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been if the worst had been the best.
She laughed at my picture and went away, then came with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say; “tis Mary the mother of God”…
By R. W. Service