On Faith: He guides us when we are lost“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)
By: Pastor Phil Berge, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)
For me it wasn’t a sheep. It was a Clam Expedition Portable Ice Fishing Shelter.
Let me explain.
I was going to attend a clergy bible conference at Camp Vermilion up on Lake Vermillion. A friend of mine and I decided to head up there the night before, so we could get in some ice fishing before the conference began. We arrived just before dark and scouted the bay in front of the retreat center. The next morning we headed out, found our spot, cleared away the snow, drilled our holes, and set up my portable shelter.
It was a perfect day to be on the lake, hardly a breath of wind, and we started catching fish. We talked about God stuff, life stuff, family stuff, all that stuff you talk about with a good friend while you are sitting in a fish house staring at a bobber waiting for it to go under.
By mid-afternoon other conference goers had begun arriving. My friend and I had a great idea. Since it was such a beautiful day and the fish were biting, we wondered if anyone else would like to come out and do a little fishing. We turned off the heater, zipped up the ice shelter and headed up to the retreat center.
Several of those arriving thought they would like to, but before we could head out again the sky clouded over and a gentle snow began to fall. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a gale force wind came up and a wall of swirling snow engulfed us. Whiteout. As the wind died down and the visibility cleared, I looked out across the bay. My fish shelter was gone.
I had a vain hope that it had blown toward the shore, so I got my toboggan and started walking the shoreline. I slogged along for three quarters of a mile or more – carefully scanning the shoreline and up into the trees along the shore, eventually reaching the point at the far end of the bay.
No fish house along the shore, and, looking past the point to the vast expanse of lake in front of me, there was no fish house in the distance either. With no snowmobile at my disposal and being too tired to walk any further, I turned around and started the long trek back to the retreat center. On my way back, I couldn’t help but think how this was a parable of life.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd who searches diligently for his lost sheep, not giving up the search until he finds it. There is so much in life like that sudden wind that can surprise us, buffet us, and carry us away.
There are so many things in life like that blinding snow that can obscure our vision. There are so many ways we can become lost.
I am ever so grateful that we have a good shepherd for whom no distance is too great; a shepherd who never tires of looking for us, and who never gives up the search until he has found us.
The Rev. Phil Berge has been pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Two Harbors since 1991. His wife Susan is pastor at Knife River Lutheran Church. They have two children, Andrew and Elizabeth.