Counting by Ones

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matthew 18:12-13 (NIV)

The dreams of our youth and reality of our adult lives are often very different things; after becoIf the work you do is mostly unseen, let me remind you that it’s not unimportant. Jesus counts by ones! His story of the lost sheep shows us that every individual heart matters to Him. There is great and lasting value in simple acts of love.ming a Christian at the age of 15 I had visions of being the next Billy Graham, standing in front of crowds of tens of thousands as I preached the word and watched countless men and women give their lives to Christ. Yeah, that didn’t happen! In my early 30’s I was convinced I’d been called by God to minister to my friends in the San Francisco and Seattle gay communities; today I’m living in Pella, Iowa, married with two kids and about as far away from that calling as I could possibly get. There are times I look at my life and feel as though I’ve failed God, wondering if the things I do really matter or make any difference.

Susan Daughtrey from Proverbs 31 Ministries has looked at her own life and experienced many of the same feelings, sharing her thoughts in the devotional titled “Counting by Ones.” She writes about reading an alumni newsletter from music school, and comparing her simple life as a stay-at-home mom to many of her classmates who where "...singing with opera houses, playing with a prestigious military band, and teaching at large universities. I wrestled with a sense of failure, wondering if I had done anything that mattered."

Have you ever felt this way? How does our view of significance compare to that of Jesus? If you’re looking for encouragement in this arena, Jesus brings very good news! In Matthew 18:12, Christ talks about leaving the 99 to go find the one lost sheep. Yes, Jesus often found himself surrounded by huge crowds, but he also spent lots of time one-on-one with people. The “little” things we do every day - caring for our kids, visiting an elderly shut-in, serving in the Sunday School class at church, having a neighbor over for dinner - have great value in the Kingdom. Daughtrey quotes a missionary who once said, “Jesus counts by ones,” or in her own words, “"...stardom is not the same as significance."

In her conclusion Daughtrey offers these words of encouragement to “normal” people like you and me:

If the work you do is mostly unseen, let me remind you that it’s not unimportant. Jesus counts by ones! His story of the lost sheep shows us that every individual heart matters to Him. There is great and lasting value in simple acts of love.

Don’t believe the lies of the enemy - your faithful service to the Lord matters!