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by Ronald Ferguson © 1998

A sheep had wandered from the rest,
And left behind the ninety-nine;
Had not considered what was best;
Had tracked no pre-determined line.
But soon it knew that it was lost,
And separated from the flock -
For separation ends in cost
As it absorbs each pain and knock.

At dusk the pale light grew so cold,
And dark the mantle of the night;
Now isolated from the fold;
No watchful shepherd's oversight.
A fear began to seize that sheep -
A fear of deep uncertainty;
Dark terror soon began to creep,
Confounding its tranquillity.

Now in its panic-stricken state,
It lost all touch of common sense.
Its energy did not abate,
So rush it did through brambles dense.
Because of thorns and rocks so dark,
It suffered cuts and bruises too.
Its headlong rush did leave its mark;
Its wilfulness was paid its due.

Just ninety-nine accounted for
That afternoon in fading light,
So once again he checked the score,
The shepherd understood his plight.
Each sheep was his for special care,
Compassion overruling all;
Their joy and hurt would truly share;
Their need and pain would be his call.

Then in that selfsame darkened hour,
Prepared the shepherd to depart.
A shepherd will not ever cower,
Concern imprinted on his heart.
The danger of that night could not
Deter the shepherd from his task.
But he would search out every spot,
Until the sheep was in his grasp.

The motivation that drove him,
was his concern for that lost sheep.
His search, determined not by whim,
was demonstrated love, so deep.
And so he found that one astray,
And gathered it with tender care.
Through that dark night he'd wend his way,
And homeward went that happy pair.

But see that shepherd now progress,
The sheep upon his shoulders laid.
Forgotten - former hurt and stress;
Recovered now - that sheep waylaid.
It rested in contented peace;
No need is there - it nothing lacks.
Upheld in strength that will not cease,
His gracious care anoints its tracks.

Then in the dead of night, arrived
The shepherd, with the sheep he'd found.
They saw his joy had been revived,
And that the sheep was safe and sound.
"Rejoice with me!" the cry went forth;
"Come, in this joy with me, relate!
This one is found that I had sought!
So friends and neighbours, celebrate!"

Good Shepherd - Jesus Christ is He,
Who gave His life so willingly.
Despising shame, He searched for me,
And lifted me so tenderly.
And on His shoulders lifted high
This one He saved, and lets me lie.
To Him always, I'll ever fly,
Protected from all dangers nigh.

Copyright reserved Metre = 8 throughout

This poem was a finalist in the January 2022 poetry contest

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Click Here to contact Ronald Ferguson to request permission to use this poem.