How the Shepherd Brought in the Lost Sheep
ONE night, or rather one morning (for it was about 3:00 a.m.) I was awakened by someone pounding at my door. There stood a man who was an entire stranger to me. He said, “I have come to ask you to go with me to pray for a dying girl.”
When I suggested that I would come as soon as it was daylight, he said he feared it would be too late; so I made ready to go. As I was dressing, he said, “I want to be fair with you and tell you where you are going. It is no nice place, but a house of shame – but this girl seems to have known you, and asked me to come as she wants you to pray with her.”
I set his mind at rest on that by telling him it did not matter where she was, if she wanted me to pray with her; I would go down with him, as that was my business.
He took me down into the low district and into a house where I found a poor girl in her teens. It was very evident that she was soon to meet her Maker. A little lamp was on the table by her bedside, and I turned the shade so the light fell on her face to see if I could recognize her. She at once sensed what I was doing and said, “I don’t think you know me, but I know you, and I knew you’d come and pray with me – for I am going to die (think of that kind of a reputation in the underworld). The girls here do not believe I am, but I know that I am going.”
While I was wondering just how I could bring that poor soul to a dying Saviour, she solved the problem by asking me if there was not a story in the Bible about a sheep that had left the fold, and of the Good Shepherd who had gone after it and brought it back again?
“Oh, yes,” I said, “that is the parable of the ninety and nine, and the one that went astray.”
“Yes,” she answered, as she unconsciously changed the emphasis from the point where the Church has placed it on the ninety and nine, to the place that Christ first gave it.
“Yes,” she murmured over and over, “the one that went astray.” Then she led me on as she asked, “Can you find that in the Bible?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s the 15th chapter of Luke,” and I turned to it and read. But I never understood it before as I did that night, when her comment on “the one that went astray” gave the real point to the parable.
When I finished the reading in Luke about the Great Shepherd, I turned over to John’s narrative about the Good Shepherd who gave eternal life to the sheep. As I knelt to pray by that dying girl, the other girls knelt too, sobbing by their companion’s bed! What an audience was there! I have preached to vast congregations, but never was a meeting more hallowed by the presence of the Lord Jesus than this! As I prayed there, the conscious feeling that she was being lifted into the very light and love of God gripped me, and right then and there was literally flooding her soul.
I shall never forget the expression on that face when I looked up.
“Oh!” she cried, “Oh! It’s wonderful! The Good Shepherd has found me, and He is holding me to His heart!”
I have never heard that expression before, but over and over she kept repeating it. How I thanked God that He had given me a Gospel of Grace, for what message would I have had for a dying sinner like that, if works or merit were demanded?
That poor lost sheep was so happy in her new found joy that I really wondered if the lifting of that burden of sin from her heart was not giving her physical strength that might bring recovery; and so I ventured to go home – but when I returned later, I knew the end had come, for the authorities were entering the house as I came up. One of the other girls came out to meet me, and her first words were, “My! We all wish you had been here when Mary passed away. She was so happy! She kept saying, ‘The Good Shepherd has found me and is holding me to His heart.’ You may say it was all fancy, but I believe He did. She actually tried to clasp her arms around the Unseen, and then, with a soft ‘Good-by’ to us girls, she was gone.”
Did He bring to a rejoicing Heaven only that one lost sheep on His shoulder? Well, listen to the sequel:
Some years later, I was conducting evangelistic services in that city. A young woman came to me, and smilingly asked, “Don’t you recognize me?” When I replied that I wasn’t sure, she said, “Yes, I think you do. I am the girl that told you of Mary’s passing that morning, and how happy she was in her new found joy, as she died, saying, ‘The Good Shepherd has found me and is holding me to His heart!’ But there is something I want to tell you. Once or twice I started to write and tell you the story, but I didn’t have the courage to finish the letter.”
“Well,” I said, “what is it that you wanted to tell me?”
She replied, “Just this: that the morning when the Good Shepherd brought Mary in on one shoulder, I came in on the other.”
Needless to say, this brought me great joy, and increased my confidence in the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the wonderful story of love.
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). “God…now commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30). “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).