LOST AND FOUND
Gary’s Wednesday Word Princeton Christian Church July 28, 2021
Do you remember your first experience of being lost as a child? Maybe you were with your parents shopping and wandered off on your own. That very thing happened to us. Sandy and I were in Sears with Kim, our first daughter who was maybe 4 years old. We suddenly realized she was nowhere near us. Panic is the emotion we felt at that moment. We searched, and then decided she might have left the store and wandered down in the mall. A short walk proved that to be where we found her – playing in the fountain. She didn’t know she was lost. You can imagine the relief and the joy we felt as we found our daughter.
People find themselves lost in many different places and experiences. Being lost brings about feelings of hopelessness. Think about being out on the sea, nothing but water in sight. No land, fuel for the boat is nearly gone, the wind is beginning to blow the boat one way and then the other. Suddenly, you spot land and you feel relief, you feel safe. You were lost and had been found.
Luke, Chapter 15 could be described as the “Lost and Found” chapter of the Bible. Jesus teaches, in Parables, about the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son.
We have probably all lived through those traumatic experiences of being lost and then found.
It is in those terms that Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God. It is the best explanation Jesus can give us to help us understand what it means to come into the Kingdom. We must experience being lost and then being found. It is an experience we all know in varying degrees. It is like a woman who was told she was suffering from a terminal illness and has a year at the most to live. She quit her job and settled her affairs, and then was mysteriously healed. Three years passed, and she was still living. She was prepared for a premature death and she received life. That is a very dramatic example of being lost (no hope) and found.
We can experience lost-ness when we are caught in some dishonestly. That is what happened to Charles Colson, who was convicted and sentenced to prison. It seemed all was lost. Yet, God found him in prison and gave him a whole new direction and an exciting ministry.
We can be lost in immorality. If somehow those secret sins come to light and we are forgiven and accepted, it’s like being found again.
Depression and mental illness can be forms of lost-ness. J. C. Penney was seriously depressed as a young man. He told of being confined in a mental hospital, suffering from such severe depression that the doctors had given up on him. One morning, he heard a commotion down the hall, he went out to investigate. He found his way to the chapel where some people were singing about putting your trust in the Lord. Penny was the son of a Baptist preacher so he knew all about Jesus and decided to once again trust Him. His whole life changed, and from that point, until he died at age 95, the Lord was the center of his life. He was lost and he was found.
In Luke 15 Jesus describes three kinds of lost-ness. We can be lost like the sheep. A shepherd knows that the sheep will get lost. They nibble their way to lost-ness. They move from one growth of green grass to the next. They keep moving along from clump to clump, sometimes right through a hole in the fence. When they are done nibbling they can’t find the hole and they are lost. Some of us know what that is – to nibble ourselves bit by bit into a lost state.
Jesus also talks about the lost coin. It is lost because of carelessness. Carelessness may cause us to choose the wrong friends, finding ourselves in places we should not be. We may have found ourselves there because of indifference or negligence.
Jesus also teaches about another kind of lost-ness. And this lost-ness is a deliberately chosen state of lost-ness. Because it is deliberate you know what you are doing. You thumb your nose at God and all who love and care for you because you so desire the life you think you want. This is what happened in the life of the lost son. But, you know the rest of the story. This son was lost, far from home and the upbringing his father had provided for him. But he returned, and his father welcomed him home. When we are in a state of lost-ness because of our deliberate, selfish, and harmful acts, and then realize our foolishness and vow to change our lives and live, cleansed, in the presence of the Father.
Remember, God, cleans the fish after He catches them. The turning point comes when this one who returns “comes to himself”, which simply suggests that he makes a wise choice. He says,” This is wrong. I have a home and a father. Maybe he will take me back as a servant.” And there is rejoicing over one who has turned from his sin and returned to the Father.
There are two truths in the story that is very reassuring. The first is that somehow you and I have a home with God. When we are lost, it’s because we have strayed from the place we were meant to be. Each of us has in us a God-shaped blank, and nothing else will fill that blank – not marriage, children, job, or success. The story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 is our story. When we left the garden we left the presence of God and we have been homesick ever since. We were made for life at home with God.
But the second and most exciting lesson Jesus is teaching us in Luke 15 is this: Jesus is aggressively looking for us. We must have some sense of our true home in order to be aware of being lost. That awareness is a gift because it is a prerequisite for our homecoming.
If you have ever had to leave a place you love and cherish, even before you’ve gone, you are homesick for that place. It is the same with our being in our place with God. Your homesickness, your longing to be where God is, is God’s gift to you.