The fire wasn’t the hottest thing at the campsite. Seven steaming teens sat on logs discussing what they were going to do to Jimmy if he returned.
Jimmy never associated with any of them. He always sat in the back of the youth van, headphones in, sunglasses on. As the rest of the group laughed and told stories, he simply stared out the window. None of them wanted him to come. And now he was taking away from their camping trip.
Their youth group leader, Mark, said he had the best ghost story they’d ever hear but they had to wait until dark. Now it was dark, and Jimmy was missing. He must have ran off from the group sometime after dinner. Mark was out frantically looking for the lost teen while his wife drove back to town to call for Search and Rescue.
“Jimmy!” Mark’s voice was quickly fainting as he’d been hiking for twenty minutes with no luck. Stumbling over logs and skinning his knees on rugged boulders, he huffed down the cliff side. If the boy wasn’t down here, he’d head back to camp. The sun was almost down and the group didn’t need two people lost.
A whisper floated by him in the breeze. Did he really hear his name? He scanned the rocks for anything that resembled a human being.
“Mark. Over here.”
That was definitely Jimmy. The youth leader hurried over the uneven terrain as fast as he could. He spotted an arm waving from between two large boulders.
“Jimmy! Are you okay.”
The teen lay between the two large rocks, blood trailing down his face. “I’ll be fine. I was hiking up there and stepped on loose gravel. I tumbled down here and now my foot is caught between these rocks.”
Mark carefully freed his foot from the crevice. Jimmy’s leg was clearly broken and wouldn’t be able to walk out.
“Mark, I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad. I’ve learned my lesson. Oh, my leg…”
“Quiet, Jimmy. We’ll talk about this later but for now I’m gonna conserve my energy so I can carry you out.”
The hike back was excruciating for both of them. The closer he got to the campsite, the heavier Jimmy felt. His legs were on fire by the time they reached their destination.
As Jimmy was strapped into the helicopter, Mark grabbed his hand.
“Jimmy, please come back to youth group when you are back on your feet. I know the others are upset but it will blow over. Just know between you and me, you’re forgiven.”
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.