Last night, I had trouble falling asleep. Jesus’ words tumbled into my semiconscious state as I began to fall into dreams. There’s a story in the Bible about a shepherd that leaves ninety-nine sheep to find one, just one, solitary, ornery sheep that wanders off. He pointed out to those who listened that God, the creator of everything, had the unique ability to hear and respond to a single creature who had wandered away from the bleating, eating, butting herd.
When I was really old, at least I thought I was, at the age of eleven or so, I got into the habit of continually thinking about death. I was ready to die. I hadn’t even gotten through puberty, but life was full of angst. I was an existentialist, and I hadn’t discovered the word, yet.
The story could drag on at this point to say that I struggled on with inner turmoil for years. The truth was I did not. It’s all very conventional, but it’s also mind-blowing at the same time. My parents were church-goers, hence I was a church-goer. At eleven, one doesn’t choose his or her social events very often.
I heard this guy talk one night at the local Methodist church. He was talking in a way I understood, not like the gibberish that the theologically-trained ministers talked each Sunday morning. He talked about being still and hearing. He was quiet and slow as he spoke, almost as if he was listening and speaking simultaneously.
Something was happening inside of me. I can’t describe the inner feeling that some kind of holy and utterly clean spirit was whispering to me.
I tried very hard to resist. I knew I could. I didn’t have to listen. The voice of the preacher man was suggesting that I yield to Life.
I struggled for what seemed like forever, but it was really just about an hour alone later that night in my bed. Yes, I decided. I was not going to struggle against such a beautiful, although unknown, Voice. I realized it was not the preacher’s voice that had gotten hold of me. It was so clean and pure so otherworldly, this Voice that spoke to me within.
Even though I had wrestled with it with all of my eleven-year-old being, I walked the aisle the next night. I said Yes to all things good. Yes, to life.
However, I was still a pre-teen cynic. I fully expected that it had been just a one-night stand with God. I reasoned that it probably was an emotional moment. I was surprised when I awakened the next morning. The experience was still with me, or more specifically the presence I had encountered last night was somehow within me.
I have had struggles with yielding, with saying yes, and staying true to that Holy Voice since then. Life has not been perfect. However, I can say I no longer thought about death all of the time.
It happened one night. One little soul that was found by God. I didn’t look for him. No, he came looking for me, just like Jesus’ story of the ninety-nine and the one.
There’s always room for just one in God’s economy, I think. It’s not about the crowds, the money, the popularity. It’s really about one life that the Spirit values more than anything else.