By Patricia Knight
Mink usually do not make themselves known to people, especially during daylight hours. One splendid warm summer day there were seven of us around our dock near the lake. While our grandsons were captivated with fishing we adults detected a sleek, black, lithe creature slithering its way around the children’s sandal-clad feet. Our son commanded his boys to stand motionless, using only their eyes to observe the oddity of nature.
The wet, glistening mink investigated everything, including foot gear worn by the boys and wet socks draped on a rock to dry. The mink’s nose never stopped wriggling and sniffing as it wove its body among every human foot firmly planted on the dock. Its conical snout with the incessant quivering was on a mission. What was bothering this mink so much that it would voluntarily wander among the enemy? We talked quietly. Then the mink slinked away as quickly as it had appeared. Our activity resumed in slow motion. The boys continued to fish as they cast a wary eye in the direction of the intruder, wondering if she would return.
It wasn’t long before mother mink emerged, this time on a new quest. She had previously disappeared into the rocks to the left of the dock, probably in the location of her den. Now, with a limp kit helplessly dangling from her mouth, mama mink hastily scampered across the dock without stopping to socialize and plunged into the water, bound for the cribwork on the opposite side of the dock. There she remained with her kit, in an area her instincts told her would be much safer than their last home. We weren’t privileged to see the mother mink or her kit again. Their short performance left us astonished, albeit entertained.
Jesus told this parable to His disciples: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:3-7).
Jesus taught a truth using familiar objects his audience would understand. One hundred sheep would comprise a flock for a modest shepherd of that day. Shepherds often worked in teams, so it would not be irresponsible for one shepherd to leave the ninety-nine safe sheep in the care of his other companions in the open field. The shepherd would not take the remainder of his herd home until the lost lamb was found.
Throughout Scripture, Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd; we are His sheep or His flock. Sheep are without direction in life. They must be led to good grazing grounds and protected from danger. They are passive animals, unequipped to find their own food to fight predators. A good shepherd supplies his sheep’s needs. The picture we see in Jesus’ parable is one of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, protecting His own. He is willing to leave His glory in heaven to search for the one who is lost. When that person is found, Jesus places His beloved on His shoulders, the place of strength, and rejoins him with the rest of His flock. Jesus always rejoices when His people return to Him for salvation, safety, and guidance throughout life.
The mother mink protected her one kit, going to great lengths and endangering her life by carrying her offspring past the enemy to safety. She was willing to risk her life for the security of her young.
Though initially the scene of the kit dangling from its mother’s mouth may appear pathetic, the instinctive submission and obedience of the kit saved its life. Though Jesus handles us much more gently, He requires our posture to be one of complete trust and reliance upon His care.
We confront danger on a daily basis. Are we willing to put our lives in the care of the Great Shepherd, who incessantly rescues His wayward children from harm, one individual life at a time? Trust Jesus daily as He readily enfolds you beneath His protective arms and leads you to safety.
Jesus went further than risking His life for us. He came to earth with the express goals to sacrifice His one perfect life for mankind, to redeem us from our sins, and to carry us on His shoulders to our refuge in heaven for an eternity.
Jesus’ mission on earth was unselfish. He sacrificed His pure, unblemished life to save His children, one-by-one. The Good Shepherd came to secure an eternal victory for His wayward ones. Submit to Him, for His plans are always perfect.