“When he finds [the lost sheep], he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” —Luke 15:5-6
“The grass is greener on the other side,” is a common phrase that we have heard before, when one is not content with their circumstances or lot in life. We may imagine that saying comes from someone looking over their fence, and seeing the neighbour’s grass greener than their own. But in actuality, that saying originates from sheep. Sheep always follow the one in front, and we can be sure, if there is a wrong way to go, they will take it, and every other sheep will follow.
For example, one time, there was a shepherd herding sheep down a path and there was an obstruction along their way. The first sheep jumped over it, so the shepherd did the obvious thing by pulling the obstacle away. But every sheep followed the one in front and continued to jump over the nothing that was there. While grazing, sheep will tend to wander off, looking for greener pasture, pushing through fences, meandering all over the place and getting caught in thorns, thistles and bushes. The odd one gets lost and stranded, and what they soon discover is that the grass is not greener on the other side.
Many Christians, dissatisfied with their lives, will step out of the will of God in pursuit of greener pasture. When a sheep has gone astray, what the shepherd does when he finds it is drape it over his shoulders and keep the sheep huddled close to him for lengthy periods so that it becomes familiar with his scent and listens to his voice. A bond is formed for the sheep in which it feels protected, warm and secure. When the time comes, the shepherd places it back in the flock, and it does not wander off again, but stays near to the voice of its shepherd.
When we wander away from God, He will let us go, but we are never out of His sight. The grass may seem greener for a little while, but it eventually becomes parched and dry. Returning to our pre-Christian days is never the same. It will prove to be empty, because once we become a Christian, we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ and we never lose Him. There is the nagging role of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness with our spirits that we are a child of God, and we cannot be satisfied outside of Christ. We may even reach rock bottom before we realize that we have had the greener pasture all along. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus rejoices in welcoming us back, and a renewed relationship with Him becomes deeply enriched by a freshly humbled dependence on Him.
Lord Jesus Christ, though I may wander off, thank You for not losing sight of me. I pray asking that I may I never lose sight of You either. Keep me humbly dependent on You. Thank You, Lord.