“Beautiful one.” That was what I called our new woman at Rainbow tonight. It just rolled off my tongue. Often the very words of God come out of our mouths spoken to women we don’t even know because He knows their name. Every prisoner who walks through the meeting room door has more than her birth name. She has a new name. Yet at times every incarcerated woman at Rainbow feels alone. She is a number. She wears her number on her uniform. She has one cot to sleep on, one chest of belongings to rummage through, one place in line to stand, and one captain to answer to. No family in her room. No home to call her own. She’s one and alone, yet she’s “one” the Shepherd has His eye on….
Lost and Found. A new name. One wandering sheep that “stole” the attention of the Shepherd… could that mean when we’re off the path, we snatch God’s attention? Imagine it! The jeopardy of a Shepherd leaving ninety-nine to check out the one risk-taker sheep head hanging out by a treacherous cliff. The evidence is there. The biblical parable tells us the 99 sheep — doing well in green pastures — are abandoned to save the little black sheep wandering towards its demise. He sees that one wandering sheep as His. One on a journey who has wandered off. He doesn’t focus on its badness. He focuses on what belongs to Him.
As we worshiped tonight with Jake and Kelly, I saw the gentle spirit of God move in resting on the ladies sitting in a semi-circle, slowly, predictably, melting in His presence. “Peace does not mean the absence of activity, but the presence of rest,” Jake said.
Are any one of us every “unwanted” when our Shepherd risks all, and leaves the 99 to go find us? One new woman, masculine, dark, alone, heard His truth “You are perfect.” She never heard that before I’m sure of it. Yet that is what God whispered to her, “God says you are perfect to Him and He loves your heart.” I could feel her holding back the sobs. “Will you let Him in?” One. She felt the lies melting off her like candle wax and she was left standing in a pure light.
A single sheep in a pasture. It catches my eye. It is alive and well and a symbol of every person’s vulnerability without a Shepherd. “He sets me in a spacious place.” The presence of a loving God takes us away from our cramped, slippery, perilous place of wandering, of treacherous failure, and pulls us back in close to His bossom. Where we can hear His voice again, where He speaks, “You are mine. I’m not going to let you go. My strength will fill you now. My love will melt you now. Can you see? You are important to me. I don’t see your flaws. I see your heart. And that’s what I’m after my little one. That’s what I love….” October 2009