Health & Wellbeing

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Frankie and the Sheep

‘Frankie’ is his name! Unusual for a 5yo Jack Russell – but as cute and friendly as a dog can be.
We took to him immediately – and he to us – as our guests arrived for a 3-night stay. Although we didn’t know Frankie was coming, he turned out to be an exceptionally well-behaved and delightful little pooch.
Frankie did miss out on the first day’s adventure as I took our guests, and a long-time riding buddy of mine, on two motorcycles and a Can Am Trike, for a day’s ride. He did grumble a little about being left behind, although he found digging a hole in the garden sufficient compensation.
The next day though, Frankie was included in the day’s outing to Brooms Head and the Sandon River. Our guests piled into their car, with fishing rods, 12yo son and Frankie, to try their hand at a spot of fishing.
They started in Maclean and caught a couple of good-sized Bream – then headed for the Maclean Lookout to absorb the delightful rural panorama. And it was here that the wheels fell off the day’s adventure – though they were blissfully unaware of it at the time.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…well, homestead really, Janine and I were at lunch following a productive morning in which I’d written my sermon for the following Sunday morning church service. The phone rang. “I’m not answering it” I mumbled – since we get numerous unsolicited (nuisance) calls at that time of the day. But fortunately, Janine did. It was our guests calling from their fishing spot on the Sandon River – some 40 minutes distant! Could we do them a favour? They’d left the Maclean Lookout without Frankie – and had only just realized the error of their ways. A nice man at the lookout had rung the number on Frankie’s collar and was looking after him. Could we go and retrieve him?
I jumped into the car and arrived at the lookout to find Frankie in the custody of said friendly man. A short conversation followed which betrayed the fact that Frankie’s rescuer was feeling a little peeved at what he perceived as a rather nonchalant attitude to Frankie’s plight, apparently conveyed via the conversation with his owner on the phone.
But all’s well that ends well, and Frankie and I had a spirited discussion about his escapade on the drive home – albeit a little one-sided!
Frankie was a little chastened. Apparently, he couldn’t understand how his family could have left him there – despite the fact that he was off chasing smells and the odd lizard or two in the undergrowth when the time came for them to leave!
All this reminded me of the parable Jesus told about the farmer guy who had a flock of one hundred sheep. He too lost one. But in that instance, he quickly realized his mistake and tucked the other ninety-nine up safely before heading off to search for his errant charge. His efforts were rewarded. He hoisted the little fellow onto his shoulders and carried him back to the flock to be reunited with his worried siblings.
Jesus explained to his disciples that this shepherd is just like God – driven to seek and save those of his flock who wander away from his protection, into mortal danger. The reality is that God finds incredible delight in welcoming back those who’ve wandered away.