"So He told them this parable, saying, 'What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!" I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance' " (Luke 15:3-7).
Yesterday, we finished up Vacation Bible School at our church. On the second day, the featured Bible teaching was on the parable of the Lost Sheep, quoted above. I have been pondering that parable and how God makes unexpected applications through events that happen in life. That day we had 100 children total; ninety-one were divided up into four well-leadered groups and the other nine were in the nursery.
The age group that I helped with was the four and five year olds. The day went pretty well. We passed from station to station, herding our 21-member slice of the population pie from station to station, carefully nudging the stragglers when they were inevitably distracted by enticing doors that were slightly ajar or stray crumbs on the floor, back into line. I frequently did head counts, to be sure that one had not slipped through one of those cracks.
After the song practice, the bananas dipped in chocolate, the snakes (to enhance our SonQuest Rainforest theme!), the Bible teaching, the rainbow butterfly craft and the gym time, we went back into the sanctuary for our closing time. First thing, our pastor asks me who was new in our group (the new kids always get a special prize) and I looked over our kiddos for the little ones in question.
That was when panic set in. I was missing the cute little girl in the pink cowboy boots. How could that be? We brought them all in and sat them in the pews. Where was she? I asked the other teachers; no one could see her. Aaaaaggggghhhh! I headed to the back to seek out, Heidi, our most excellent director. She knew who the little one came with and there was grandma, sitting in the back, looking as if all is right with the world. Heidi noted that she would not look that calm if she didn't see her granddaughter. So we started scanning the crowd. Finally, Heidi spotted her...sitting in the pew right in front of grandma (Do you know where the best place is to hide a child? In the company of many other children). I went over and told her grandmother that I had been searching for Calamity Jane, that I was taking her back to our group and would she please retrieve her after things were over? She was fine with that. Then I told my little pink cowgirl to please stay with the group until grandma came to get her. Then I sat down and rejoiced over locating that sweet little girl.
As I pondered over the time a couple of things came to mind. First, I noted that I did not automatically pray. I usually do that, but for whatever reason I didn't this time. I wasn't happy with myself. God knew exactly where my little Annie Oakley was and I should have sought Him out as I was looking for her. Second, of our 100 little sheep that day, one was lost and found again. In spite of the irony of that application, my frustration with the situation remained. I am thinking about a better system for moving that precious cargo from place to place next year.
Keeping track of preschoolers is like trying to keep stringless helium balloons on a table. I think the trick is to get some string.