I can go months without doing a funeral, but I’ve done two funerals now in two days. Yesterday’s was for Marge who I had known for almost 18 years. Today’s was for a woman I had never met; the funeral director called me up and said the family was looking for a Methodist minister. A 54 year old wife/daughter/sister had finally died after dealing with Lupus for 35 years. I sat with the family yesterday, listening to them tell me the briefest sketch of her story.
It is one of the privileges of this strange work I do that I get to hear the stories more often than most people do. Amazing. Simply amazing.
These very ordinary people we honk at on the roadways have stories of suffering and courage and longing that would move us to tears if could hear them, but mostly they go unheard. (We would never honk at each other if we could actually hear one another’s stories.)
One way to try and think about God is that God is the one who knows all the stories — every little detail.
Lost sheep are like people with stories that go unheard and are forgotten. In Jesus’ little story the good shepherd goes out into the wilderness to search for the lost sheep “UNTIL HE FINDS IT.” (Not “if”, but “when.”) And “when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.” (Luke 15:4b – 5) The ramifications of all this are pretty mind boggling with graciousness if you let yourself think about it.
In the end, all the stories get heard, nobody’s story is forgotten, and all the characters are loved. When you truly hear the stories, its hard not to.