‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home’.Luke 15:4-5
It was mid August 2018 and I was in the Lake District. We had rented a holiday cottage with my in-laws. It was my third week of holiday (I know!) and I was sat on a chair on the patio looking out an incredible picturesque scene of noisy sheep, rolling hills, and deep blue and clear sky. I should have been relaxed to the point of being horizontal. And yet I was a ball of anxiety.
Life and work was getting the better of me – outwardly all seemed well – but inwardly I was wasting away! I remember saying to my father-in-law that if I met myself I am not sure I would like myself. His response was: ‘Jack, you can’t say that, you’re a great guy’. But sometimes the truth is in the eye of the beholder. And this time it very much was! I couldn’t see it. So right there in the Lake District I resolved that I did not want this life the way it was anymore. And I remember distinctly looking in the mirror upstairs and simply saying: ‘God, give me a hunger for you’.
I returned to Leeds. I told my wife I was going to give Jesus a real go, and review it at Christmas. Honestly, what am I like! I went down into my living room and cast my mind back to the last time I felt like Jesus was close to me. I was reminded of a 17-year-old Jackson listening to Matt Redman. So turning to Spotify I scrolled down through all his music to his hits from 1997! And I sung my heart out and then prayed like I meant it.
Back briefly to the Lake District: whilst we were there my five year old son slipped on some stepping stones and momentarily was washed down stream – thankfully we pulled him out. As I sat in my living room in Leeds and sang to Matt Redman’s hits from the 90s, I was hit by what felt like a torrent of God’s spirit, a bit like my son must have felt falling into that water. It was as if I had opened a pair of double doors and was met by Jesus with his arms opened wide, greeting me with his passionate love. It completely bowled me over.
The following morning at 6am I lay on the sofa as my three children watched Thomas the Tank Engine. Thomas had been held up by some cheeky sheep. As clear as day my seven year old daughter turns to her brother and asks if he knows the story of the Lost Sheep. I sat bolt upright, read the story and concluded that I am ‘joyfully riding on his shoulders’. What a place to be!
I am writing this in January 2019. Still on his shoulders. Still with a smile on my face. And boy am I grateful.
I pray this Easter that you and I would experience afresh the passionate love he has for us, as he stretches out his arms to us, with hands that flung stars into space and which to cruel nails surrendered.
Written by Jackson Turner, LCCT Trustee