Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cared For

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

You have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! – Psalm 27:9

Jesus said, "This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me." – John 6:39

Lectionary texts: Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 51:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

A small contrast catches my eye again today. Psalm 27, attributed to David, prays to not by forsaken or deserted by God. But in the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15, Jesus portrays God as a shepherd who will leave 99 safe sheep in order to go and find one who is lost.

The main point of the parable is that God values every person, to the point of giving special attention to those in danger of becoming disconnected or lost. But the detail of the 99 sheep being left behind (forsaken? deserted?) is an important piece of the story, very relevant to the Pharisees who heard Jesus tell this parable after they complained about his presence with "sinners." While we love to hear how God will come find us when we're the lost one, we may feel forgotten or abandoned when we're among the 99.

Sheryl and I have noticed, as we live now with one dog and one cat, and as we lived in the past with two young kids who were brother and sister, that there is a kind of jealousy or need for equal attention to what "the other one" is getting. Probably it's that way with all of us. We should be mature about it as adults, and acknowledge that what's going on when someone else is being cared for is important too, and we would want it to be exactly the same way if the situation was reversed.

But I think there's also something to learn about accepting our concern as it is, without apologizing for it or willing it away. We want to be cared for. We want to know that we matter, that we're loved, that we will always have access to God and God's provision for us. We're made for connection with God, and desiring that connection is a sign that a healthy faith is at work.

God of grace, thank you for caring for us both in times of special need and in times of stability and strength. We may see your hands at work in our own lives, or in the lives of others. Either way, help us to give thanks and live trustingly in your care.

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