Upon a hill about a mile from the little rural church lived the Harris family. Mr. and Mrs. Harris had been married close to fifteen years and during that time they had had ten children—eight boys and two girls. N one of them were twins.
On Sunday mornings the young minister stood close to the door with an eye on the road to see if the Harris family was coming. T his was about 20 percent of the Sunday school and virtually all of the nursery, beginners and primary classes.
They drove an old ’37 Chevrolet— two doors—which was all they could afford. In the front seat would be the father and mother with two or three of the little ones, and in the back all the rest were stacked to the top. T he parents would get out, throw forward the seat, and children would tumble out almost endlessly. One had to wonder when the line would stop.
The neighbors were forever asking, “How in the world do you keep up with ten children? Do you count noses at the table to be sure they are all fed? Before you latch the screen door at night do you count bodies to be sure they are all tucked in?”
One Sunday morning the young minister asked, “Mrs. Harris, do you ever by accident leave any of them behind? T hen he watched as Mrs. Harris’ eyes grew soft and little lines of loving care crinkled and she replied, “Oh, no! I never miss a one of them. T hey are all precious to me.” G od’s love for you and me is like that.
Jesus once told a story about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. O ne was lost and the shepherd left the ninety nine in the wilderness and went in search of the one that was lost. And finding it, he called his friends and neighbors together saying, “Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep which was lost.” G od’s love for you and me is like that.
It was Augustine who said, “God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love.” God’s love is not divided up so that each of the world’s 6.65 billion people has a little of it. R ather, God’s love is so multiplied that each one has as much love as if there were only one.
That’s the gospel—the good news, God saying to you and me, “I never miss a one of you; you are all precious to me.” John in his gospel said it like this: “ God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.