The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:12 of Jesus being the Shepherd, and people are His sheep. The sheep hear His voice, and listen to Him. But every now and then, there will be a sheep or two who let curiosity get to the best of them, and they start to wander off. In spite of the Shepherd's warnings of the danger of getting out of the safe pasture, they continue to go their own way, thinking the grass is greener on the other side.
But, unfortunately, they find themselves in the wolf's territory, and if they aren't careful, they can be consumed and destroyed. Not realizing the danger they are in, they continue to get farther and farther away from the protected flock.
But the Shepherd, in His experienced eye, sets about leaving the flock and goes after the lost sheep. You see, He doesn't want to lose a single one. He uses His shepherd's hook to bring the wandering sheep home, carrying him on His strong shoulders, to the luscious grass of His own pasture.
We understand that this story tells us of the great love Jesus has for each one of us, and if we wander away from Him, He is fully aware of it, and wants to bring us back.
Let's look at this from a more modern perspective. Shepherds today use sheep dogs to herd in the sheep. At the command and whistle of the shepherd, the dogs know right where to go, and they obediently guide the wandering sheep in the direction the shepherd wants them to go. They have been trained to understand the voice of the shepherd, and follow His orders to bring the sheep together.
Are you a sheep dog? God can use you and me in that fashion to guide our brothers and sisters back to Him and His Kingdom. While we aren't called to judge others, we are called to guide them back to God if we see them wandering. By listening to the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit, we can discern when someone is straying from God's Word, and in love and gentleness, encourage them to return to God, to repent and follow Him.
The prayers of the Saints for lost loved ones are like the whistle of the Shepherd. Sending our prayers to God who hears them, is like a force sending a strong message to rope those sheep in. He doesn't want any to perish. Our prayers can initiate the sheep dogs of God's Kingdom to witness to the wandering, to reveal the Shepherd's great love for them, to bring them home.
Let us pray without ceasing for our wandering loved ones, and if God is calling us to be His sheep dogs, let us be sensitive to His voice. Someone out there may be wandering. Will God be sending you?