"doth he not leave the ninety and nine"

When I was talking to my mom a couple of weeks ago, she shared with me what she was going to do for the Sunday School lesson she was teaching on the 22nd May. She teaches the boys and girls turning 9 in her ward (congregation) Sunday School class.

The lesson was going to be about the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15 and Matthew 18.

Initially my mom said she was going to make 100 sheep to put in the classroom and then have one sheep missing and wait until the children counted all the sheep to see that one was missing. But then she felt that she needed to make a flock of 100 sheep for each child. She has 7 children in her class.

She spent all day a couple of weeks ago creating this page of 45 sheep by scanning the image of the one sheep, resizing it and filling up the page with the 45 sheep you see. Then she printed it off, made copies on cardstock and spent the rest of the day cutting out the sheep (all 700 of them) and writing each child's name on every sheep in 'their' flock as well as numbering the sheep 1-100.

She took a different numbered sheep out of each child's flock and placed it in its own envelope and then delivered the rest of the flock (the ninety and nine) with a letter to each child explaining what the child needed to do in preparation for their Sunday School lesson. Each child needed to go through the sheep my mom gave them and identify which sheep they were missing - they would know this because the entire flock was numbered 1-100. But since my mom took a different numbered sheep out of each child's flock, they would HAVE to figure out the missing one in their flock and not think they could say they were missing the same number that 'Johnny' was in order to earn a candy bar.

Then on Sunday when they get to their classroom my mom will ask them which sheep they are missing. If they tell her the correct number on the sheep they were missing from their flock, my mom will give them the envelope with the missing sheep and let them choose a candy bar. Then my mom will explain to them that the Savior is our Shepherd and he knows each of us. He identifies and knows which one of his sheep is missing from the flock.

The other point my mom made to me when she was sharing her lesson plan with me is that there are some people who attend church every week but they are still lost and don't even realize it.

I thought this was such a great idea I was a bit disappointed that Tips Jr is a bit too young to enjoy this type of a lesson. But as it turns out, Tips and I get to teach this same lesson today since we are substituting in the Primary.

I am so grateful for a loving Shepherd who loves me enough that he will leave the ninety and nine to come and find me and bring me back to the fold.

An interesting insight into this parable was actually shared in my parents' ward on Mother's Day when we were visiting (which my mother didn't hear because she was with the children in their Sunday School class). One of the sisters went onto explain that after the shepherd found the missing sheep, he would often break the sheep's legs and then carry the sheep on his shoulders until the legs were healed. This taught the sheep not to stray from the Shepherd again and to stay near to him. Speaking from her own personal experience, this sister said that when the Shepherd sees us straying (and oftentimes we are unaware that we are straying from the flock), he will 'break us' or humble us so that we are dependent on him and so that we don't further stray from the Him and the rest of the flock.

That was such an interesting point I had never considered before. It made me even more grateful for the trials and humbling experiences I am blessed to experience in mortality. The Lord loves me enough to give me these experiences so that I will remember to stay close to Him and not trust in the arm of flesh as Paul taught the Roman saints. When we follow the Spirit and the Lord's counsel we are blessed. I know from personal experience that this is true.

Postscript: Use of the letter and the 45 sheep for monetary gain or commercial use is prohibited. Original copyright of sheep image is held by Intellectual Reserve 1990. As these items are freely shared you are allowed to share them only if you include a link to mrstips.com. Give credit where credit is due, and since my mom doesn't have her own website this post is essentially hers.


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