“Please, Lord, help me get one more.” Desmond Doss’s (played by Andrew Garfield in the movie Hacksaw Ridge) prayer as he single-handedly returned again and again to an active and deadly battlefield with the sole purpose of rescuing one more wounded and hopeless soldier.
I recently reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years for lunch. After paying for my food, the cashier gave me a number for my order, but I paid no attention to it at the time. It wasn’t until I placed it face-up on my table to let the server know which order was mine that I became aware my number was “99.” As soon as I did, a delightful warmth embraced my heart, and a smile spontaneously etched itself across my face.
“Oh yes, Lord, I see You!” I chuckled aloud, unable to contain my delight as I immediately connected the biblical story of the shepherd who leaves the flock of 99 behind in search of the one lost sheep and my having lunch with my long-lost friend. “99 is the perfect number for lunch with my missing friend! Thank You, Father!”
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:4-7 (NKJV)
As I contemplated that well-known story, God graciously reminded me of His wondrous love for me. Jesus left the 99 and began His decades-long quest for me, a lost, broken, and rebellious sheep in desperate need of rescue. He refused to abandon me in the wilderness despite enduring the worst the world I was a part of could throw at Him on His rescue mission. Bruised and beaten, hanging on the cross, Jesus fixed His gaze lovingly and compassionately upon my brokenness as I wallowed in the sludge of a battlefield thick with the musky stench of my rebellion against God. Yet, even so, He gloriously persevered for my sake rescuing me for all eternity.
Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of]sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53 (NKJV)
My dear brothers and sisters already in Christ’s “99,” I pray your heart overflows with thanksgiving and praise as you reflect on Jesus’s steadfast, boundless, relentless, life-giving, sacrificial love for you.
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV)
If you don’t know Jesus yet, may today be the day He brings you home to join the flock. No matter how far away you’ve roamed, no matter what you’ve done, please know that you are not beyond His reach of love and grace.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
Even now, He’s calling out for you, the one lost sheep. Do you hear His voice? It is my prayer you do. Call out to Him!
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV)
“Living Hope” by Phil Wickham from the album “Living Hope.”