I immediately recognized his childlike handwriting on the envelope.
Relief flooded my heart because we had not heard from him in months. This letter meant he was okay. The letter was from a prison inmate. We consider him part of our family and we love him dearly.
My relief was quickly replaced with frustration. He had received more time behind bars due to his poor behavior. He had already spent the majority of his life incarcerated, and his childhood had been wrought with horrific trauma and abuse.
I felt like our efforts to help him were failing. I prayed, Lord, I am tired.
Then I felt the Lord say, I'm not.
As I held the letter, one of my children handed me a drawing of Jesus surrounded by sheep. Some of the sheep were dirty, some were hurt, some were fluffy and smiling. In her own childlike handwriting, handwriting that at seven years old was not much different than our friend in prison who was nearly forty years old, she had written, “Jesus loves all the sheeps!”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).
I think of my daughter’s innocent drawing, and I am reminded to rejoice.
I encourage you to rejoice, sister. Rejoice because Jesus lays down His life for all of us.
We are His when we are suffering. We are His when we are struggling with sin. We are His when we are growing in relationship with Him. In times of consolation and desolation, we are His.
We are loved by Him, and He does not grow tired. He does not run from our mess. We are His sheep, and He is a Good Shepherd.
Listen to His voice.
Find a pocket of two-five minutes to sit in silence. Invite the Lord into your thoughts and stay with Him in prayer.
Leana Bowler is a wife and mother of five little ones. She is a Holy Rosary enthusiast with deep devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her love for the message of Divine Mercy led her to become a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy dedicated to spreading Marian Consecration and the beauty of Christ's abundant Mercy. She enjoys finding the miracles in the mess of family life, books, strong coffee, and encountering others wherever they're at in this blessed journey to sainthood. You can find out more about her here.