Deck Cheatham: Who will follow the shepherd?

Deck Cheatham

God or truth (God is truth) cannot be confined or defined by momentary human occurrences. He is greater than any one sliver of time in human history. If he could be so contained, I don't think he would be God at all, and thus, not worthy of worship, but mere convenience.

God calls me out of time, so I come to him daily because I desire to leave time and be in his presence. I want to hear him while the soundless hush of dawn culls me into full attention and devotion, away from the day's reach. How else could I come before him but to offer my solitude before my unuttered thoughts seep and rise toward daylight?

Reverberating and quite audible to me as I pray these days for anyone touched by COVID-19 (and this is everyone) is the parable of the lost sheep. I ask, "Why this parable, Lord?"

Confused about what God is trying to say, the weight of his answer settles on me as I sift through my thoughts. I put aside my preconceptions about the parable and listen. I pray, "What do you want me to see, Lord?" Patience in his presence yields answers to anyone chancing humility.

Looking not for what I understood, my mind settled on the 99. I always took for granted the 99 sheep who were not lost. Never did I consider their place in the story. But, there they are, maybe not significant, but not superfluous, either. Their placement demanded my attention as much as I give it to God in each morning's silent hum of quietude.

I noticed the 99, at least, were indifferent to the one lost and were probably bothered by the interruption. Nothing in the story suggests any of them wanted to help or cared. Their normal disturbed, they huddled together and kept to themselves as though it was safer for the shepherd to handle the matter. Sheep don't possess cognition, but they serve well as metaphors. Maybe the Holy Spirit was metaphorically absent in all but the shepherd. In the parable, the 99 failed to take care of the one lost.

In this COVID world, ample stories abound about shepherds. Each offers affirmation, a warm assurance of God's presence, like my suspended mornings. But everywhere are reminders of the 99 forgetting the consequences, detached and indifferent to the one lost. In this slivered history, who will follow the shepherd and who will huddle with the 99? Isn't it time to leave the flock and follow the shepherd?

Temptation overtakes a life absent the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness looks in the face of remembrance and loves in spite of. In this strange new reality, I try to remember this.

American novelist Anne Lamott wrote, "This is the most profound spiritual truth I know: that even when we're most sure that love can't conquer all, it seems to anyway."

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8, NKJV).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for some 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Please visit his blog at deckcheatham.com. Email him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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