Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Counting

The other day, my oldest son showed up a little late for an event.  Not uncommon for a busy teenager.  He then explained that he was late because a hubcap fell off his car, and someone behind him, saw it fly off, watched it roll away, and wanted to let him know where he could find it.  My teenagers share the greatest car ever!  It was a gift!  And though it is a tad worn, it just keeps going each week, as we fill the tank with love and appreciation---- and a little gas, when funds allow.  So, I asked my son what he said to the man who told him of the plight of his missing hubcap?  He looked at me surprised, and said, "I said Thank You, I need that hubcap!!  I ONLY have one on that side!!!"  My son's response stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to ponder!!  Though this car may seem old to the onlooker, my son values it and had "counted" and he knew a hubcap was already missing------ the thought of losing another was simply out of the question!!

 The story tells of the shepherd who had 100 sheep.  He "counted" only 99.  He loved his sheep enough to leave the 99, momentarily, and go find the one.                                                                                
And, when the wandering lamb was found, the shepherd rejoiced and threw him over his shoulders and carried him.  He loves his sheep enough to "count" them often.  During his ac"counting", he realizes one is missing and that becomes an immediate priority ------ and, a great lesson for all of us parents, grandparents, favorite aunts, teachers and mentors of every kind ------- he did not bring him back scolding or lecturing.  He did not seem to belittle him regarding his choice to wander.  Nor did he appear to pile up the punishments, nor rub his nose in his mistakes.  And, I bet that lamb felt loved, in spite of his decision to wander, as he lay on the shoulders of he who "counted!"

It was a cold winter night, just weeks after my husband left.  I remember being numb from the weather of the season and from my circumstance.  My sweet 8 year old was curled up, asleep beside me.  The other 3 kids were all out for various events.  Just as curfew approached, my phone began to ring with requests to pick up my sheep.  I looked at my youngest lamb, safe and asleep, wondering how I was going to leave the One, and go pick up the three, who were "counting" on me.  As midnight quickly approached, I seemed frozen by my new predicament as a single mother!!  I KNEW I was the shepherd to my children-----their ONLY shepherd that night.  My kids were "counting" on me, so I decided to "count" on Him!!! As I thought of the lamb over the shoulder of the shepherd, I grabbed a sleeping bag, and bundled up my little lamb, and with strength beyond my own, and an attitude to match, I carried my one to the car, and on that snowy night, picked up the other three, who were "counting" on me.  Amid the darkness and the cold, that night, I realized that  "counting" would be crucial over the next few weeks, months and years.  Not so much that I was being "counted" on as a single shepherd------ but that "counting" on Him would be my greatest source of inspiration and strength, to navigate the unfamiliar roads ahead.  And, my heart was filled with warmth as I realized that I too, was being "counted" and cared for, by divine design, by various hearts and hands.

That night, I realized why "counting" sheep helps us fall asleep.  "Counting" often  those we are responsible for, called to lead, in a position to teach, guide and influence, gives us the peace we need, to allow our minds and hearts to rest.  Thus giving us that unseen strength to keep "counting and the patience and inspiration required as we are "counted" on!!!   "Counting" sheep helps me remember that not only is my family "counting" on me,  but the ultimate Shepherd is there, for ME to "count" on.  There are days when I come home rejoicing with a lamb, or two or three on my shoulders, after a hard day.  Then, more often than not, I have those days when I feel like I don't matter or "count" to anyone, that the weight of those "counting" on me seems almost impossible to bear!  It is then, that I realize, I am the lamb being carried, by the Good Shepherd, who is always "counting!" A hubcap so treasured!  Not just a number!  A good night's sleep and sheep! On His shoulders! Carrying! Counting!!

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