One of the Ninety and Nine

When you grow up in the south, a commonly asked question is “Have you been saved?” I wasn’t always sure how to answer such a question. In the typical protestant sense of the word, I guess I hadn’t experienced that one moment when I willingly accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. But it wasn’t because I didn’t recognize Him as such. I just couldn’t identify one specific moment when I decided He was. He simply always had been. From the earliest days of my youth, I was taught who Jesus was, and quite explicitly what He did for me. And really, I’ve never questioned it since. It simply is; a truth I do not doubt, a fact I’ve known as long as I can remember knowing much of anything at all.

When did I know the Book of Mormon was a true testament of Jesus Christ? I would ask, when wasn’t it true? I fear I may sound a bit lofty in my claims of doctrinal assurance, but really it’s quite the opposite. I am humbled and deeply grateful for the opportunity that I had to be raised in this Gospel, to have parents that taught me as they did. But at times, I can’t help but envy the powerful, life altering experiences that are brought about by conversion. My husband is a convert of twelve years. He joined the church while serving in the army, literally changing the course of his life in mid-step. His decision was not met without criticism. Old friends and fellow soldiers did not understand his new standards, considering his attempts at being better, living better, pious and self righteous. Derogatory remarks were tossed about, both directed at him and at his God. But he was stalwart in his decision, his resolve hardened to follow Christ, even when he felt he was following alone. I love that. I love the intensity of making such a decision, of making such a drastic commitment to truth and righteousness.

But me? As Michael McLean so eloquently summarizes in one of my favorite songs…

“I am one of the ninety and nine.
I’m not perfect, but basically, I’m doing fine.
I have not lost my way. I have not gone astray.
I’m just one of the ninety and nine.

I am here in the heart of the fold.
I’m not mindless but I try and do as I’m told.
I’m not tempted to run, or become the lost one.
I’m just here in the heart of the fold.

I’m just one of the Ninety and Nine
I have stumbled and fallen but I’ve kept in line
I’m not one he must seek, I’m not all that unique
I’m just one of the Ninety and Nine.”

My life is not filled with extraordinary moments of Gospel revelation and empowerment. I don’t often hear a voice, or feel a powerful drive to change my life. I cannot relate to Alma the Younger, to Enos, or the sons of Mosiah. Instead, my faith has been built in small measures, tiny steps taken one after the other. And while I’ve certainly had a misstep or two, made painful mistakes and ventured down a few dangerous side roads, the truth of the Gospel simply always has been. And yet, my faith is no less important, my value no less significant to my Savior. Just because he hasn’t ever pulled me out of a raging river of sin, or gently untangled me from the thorny snares of iniquity, doesn’t mean He wouldn’t. Whether our faith comes through spectacular conversion or small and steady measures, we are known and loved personally, intimately by the one true Shepherd.

“Then why is my Shepherd treating me like a lost lamb?
He’s searching to find me, and He’s holding me now, yes
He’s holding me now, and teaching me who I am.

Why am I feeling like I’m the only one here?
It’s like I’m his favorite, and He takes me aside
And He sweetly confides, these remarkable words in my ear:

‘You are one of the ninety and nine.
Have you any idea how brightly you shine?
You are safe in this fold, and it’s time you were told,
That I know where you’ve been so I know where you’ll be
Because all of your life you’ve been following me.
You are more than just one of the sands of the sea
Or just one of the ninety and nine…

You are mine.'”

 
Lyrics taken from “Ninety and Nine” by Michael McLean. If you’ve never heard it, go find it and listen. It’s one of my favorites. 🙂
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14 thoughts on “One of the Ninety and Nine

  1. InkMom says:

    You read this post to me weeks ago and it still made me cry just now.I am convinced that my sure knowledge is a spiritual gift, because, like you, it's never not been there.

  2. Annette Lyon says:

    This is simply beautiful. And I can relate. There have been times I've felt less valued, in an odd way, because I'm one of the ninety and nine. Thanks for this.

  3. Tillia says:

    Thank you for the beautiful testimony, and like you I am so grateful I was raised in the gospel and that I can raise my kids in the gospel. Having sure faith is such a blessing and I am so happy I have it as well. Being one of the ninety and nine is just fine by me!

  4. Snarkinkmom says:

    Don't we all want to feel the Lord's love? All we have to do is ask…why would He deny us that which only helps us to be a more open vessel…He doesn't. Saved, indeed.

  5. Claudia says:

    I love how you put this into words.You see? I grew up in the Catholic faith, I did all my sacraments and what not … I grew up knowing that He loves me, Knowing that He died for me, knowing that He's up there waiting for me when He decides to take me. There has never been any doubt of that … I know that for a fact, I know what's truth.Then I moved here and I heard that question so often too … and my answer is just like yours … I don't know the moment … it's always been inside of my heart!!!AMEN to your wonderful words!

  6. Destinee says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful. I can definately relate. I love that song too! Even more so after Time out. Just what I needed to be reminded of today!

  7. DeNae says:

    I've never heard that song, but wow! What a message. I know exactly where you're coming from. Growing up in Salt Lake, and being the straight-arrow, rule-keeping firstborn I've been blogging about lately, I sometimes felt like one of the 999,999. Our bishop in Seattle referred to us as the "Maytag" members; just doing our thing without requiring much maintenance.But I think, for folks like us, the real challenge is to believe that we are seen, noticed, loved, and held to a personal standard of faithfulness. We can't hide among the other 98, we can't conceal our little moments of pettiness, any more than our little moments of service and charity go unnoticed by the shepherd.There is a welcome anonymity in being a part of the 99. We have to be careful that we don't substitute that for personal responsibility and continual efforts at growth and repentance.I sure do love you and your sister, my dear friend.

  8. Patricia H. Bradley says:

    I too live in the South and am LDS/Mormon. I joined the church in 1978 and haven't looked back or thought twice since. My two oldest sons were raised most of their lives in the church and we have done some 30+ yrs of foster care. We also have adopted 4 other children and one died 6 yrs ago and I can't wait to see him whole in the spirit world some day. I enjoyed reading your blog.

  9. Happy Mom says:

    This is one of my all time favorite songs!!!! It's me exactly! I, like you, was raised in the gospel and have never wanted to stray. The peace and beauty of knowing have been a crucial constant in my life. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Jill Barton says:

    Well, you don't know me so let me introduce…my name is Jill Barton and I am a recently called Young Women's president in my ward. I live in Bunnell, Florida, am 24 years old, have a 6 month old little boy, and know what it's like to grow up in the south. 🙂 I have been planning a progressive dinner for my girls with the theme of Michael McLean's song, Ninety and Nine. I googled the lyrics and your blog came up. I read your thoughts about the song and decided it was the perfect supplement to share with the song. I know it will touch the girls like it did me and make them feel as special and empowered as I did. Thank you! Best of luck on your book and congrats. ps. your family is precious.

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