from theDesk of…
by Stephanie Chang, Major –
One of the most interesting trips my husband and I took in recent years was the study tour of Paul’s journeys. When the opportunity came, we signed up quickly and were excited about exploring the ancient cities. The trip was very educational and one that will stay in my mind for the rest of my life.
We spent a week in Greece and moved on to Turkey. Everything seemed normal until we reached the border. The tourists had to get out of the bus and walk over the border—an interesting experience. There was a small amount of confusion and perhaps uneasy feelings. We were leaving the country that had become familiar and walking into a new territory. However, everyone calmly followed the border patrol’s direction, and eventually the Turkish guide welcomed us, showing genuine care for the foreigners.
The countryside of Turkey provided entirely different scenery than the city corners of Greece. Riding along the rugged green pastures was soothing and enjoyable. As I was leaning against the window, looking out the mountains, I saw a great number of sheep grazing throughout the expansive field. It looked so peaceful and the shepherd tending the flock seemed to have a perfect control over them.
At least for a brief moment nothing stood out of the ordinary to grasp anyone’s attention. Then, as the bus approached the sheep, I could almost see the frustration on the shepherd’s face as he was trying to catch a wayward sheep. He must have walked a few hundred feet. Without much struggle he successfully caught the rebellious one, turned around and carried it towards the large flock.
If someone were to ask me, I would say that this was the most poignant moment of the trip for me.
What I saw was more than just a shepherd doing his job. It was as if Jesus was asking me directly: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about the one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:12-14, NIV).
I was overwhelmed with great joy because the truth was suddenly revealed to me. His love is great even for the least of us. This is how I ought to love my flock; until there is none left astray.
A trip such as this leaves a life changing impact on one. Standing on the ground of Parthenon, strolling along the ancient pavement of Ephesus and dipping my feet in the hot springs of Pamukkale were all so incredible experiences.
But the real lesson I learned remains in my heart. Learn to love even the least among us as Jesus loves all of us. Learn to give yourself fully to him until no one is left astray. His love so great, he even considers the least among us important. I thank God for his clever way of revealing the wonderful truth to me in a very personal way.