Today I am thinking of the word “lost.” Have you ever been lost? I mean really, truly lost? I have and it is a scary feeling. Not fun!
Years ago, I was deer hunting with my young teenage son by my side. While in New Mexico, we went walking out from camp one very foggy, rainy morning. After about two hours of walking through creeks and crevices, we were lost for sure. The ceiling dropped right down on the hills and we could not see anything much beyond our noses. We walked another hour or so, only to realize we had walked in a complete circle. We were right back where we started from. We are now cold, very wet, and getting discouraged as night was approaching. We were truly lost.
Did you know that Jesus used this descriptive word “lost” to describe the human condition of men separated from God? He even defined his mission on earth as coming to “seek and to save those who are lost.” Jesus told many stories and parables, but perhaps his most famous is found in Luke 15. Here speaking to the religious leaders of his day, he told the stories of a shepherd who lost a sheep, a widow who lost a coin, and a father who lost a Son. Five times in those stories our lord used this term “lost” to describe men separated from God.
I have some insights on this you might enjoy and actually learn from:
- We don’t all get lost the same way. The coin was lost through no fault of its own. It was lost because of the carelessness of the widow. Even so, many folks I know are lost because of the circumstances of birth. Maybe they were born in a godless, loveless home with no room in it for God or faith in God. My home as a child was like that. There was never a Bible in our home, no church, no mentoring in spiritual things. No wonder that I grew up “lost.”
- Some of us are like the lost sheep. A sheep my nature needs a shepherd or it will wander off and get lost. Sheep just seem to follow their nose and mouth, eating themselves over a cliff! I have “lost” friends like that, who are not bad or wicked people, but none the less they are lost. They like sheep have slowly over time just drifted away from God. Now they cannot find their way back into the fold.
- Some folks are lost like the prodigal son got lost. They deliberately chose to get lost. They walked out of the father’s house (church) and never returned. They sowed their wild oats until the oats covered their head! Those kind of people deserve the pig pen because they chose the path that led them there. They too are “lost.”
- Then there is the star of the story– the older brother who stayed home while his younger brother rebelled and ruined his life. He too is lost even though he never left home. How is that possible? Jesus wants us to know you can be the most terribly lost of all when you are lost in dead religion. The older brother represents the religious leaders in Israel who were so critical of Christ because he was a friend of sinners. They were religious snobs who had no compassion for anyone who was “lost.”
Think of it this way- like the older brother you can live in the father’s house, eat at the father’s table, and pretend to love your father, and still not know your Father (God)nor share and care about what He cares about. There is no man more lost to God than the pharisee whose heart is in the far country!
One final thought. I was found that rainy foggy day in New Mexico. I wanted to be found so I walked down a road until I found a pick up truck belonging to another hunter. He put my son and me in the back of his truck and took us back to camp. I wanted to get found. That is true of any sinner that wants to be found. God is like that father in the parable; running to hug and kiss his prodigal son. It does not matter to him how or why you are lost. He loves you regardless and wants you in his family, eating at his table, rejoicing in his presence that you have been found. Come on home to Jesus- the door is open, there is a chair at the table with your name on it! Get found!