What does repentance look like? A lost sheep. The shepherd leaves ninety-nine sheep to search for the one lost. The shepherd seeks, finds, lifts onto shoulders, and walks back carrying the sheep. What does the sheep do? It accepts. Kenneth Bailey wrote: “Repentance is not a work which earns our rescue. Rather, the sinner accepts being found.”[i]
Remember what it feels like to be lost. Separated from a parent or friend. Not knowing where you are. Caught up in pride through pleasures or resentments like the lost sons later in this parable. Hungry for love.
Remember what it feels like to be found. Reunited. Knowing where you are. Being seen, witnessed, accepted, and loved as you are for who you are. Welcomed and fed.
Remember what it feels like to share joy. “Come celebrate with me!” they say with a big smile and rising voice. Their countenance sparks heart-pumping energy in us. We smile and laugh or clap together.