Lost & Found
God has spent a fair amount of time in recent days reminding me that I am found in Him: even when I feel completely lost, even if everyone seems to have forgotten me, even if it doesn’t seem like anybody is paying attention, He is. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt lost or forgotten; not even missed by the very ones you love and who are supposed to love you back? Some of us are better than others at talking ourselves off the figurative ledge but all of us have been there. If you can relate, grab your Bible and let me take you for a little walk through Luke 15.
Luke 15 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. I guess, because I know what it is to be lost. I know how good it feels to be found and to find that which is treasured. I love how Jesus tells story after story of valuables lost and the rejoicing that occurs when they’re recovered. Even if only one of The Good Shepherd’s little sheep is missing, Jesus goes searching – just like all good shepherds do. He won’t just let us wander off. Everyone else can be following the Shepherd, keeping up with the flock, being good little sheep, but if one gets lost, Jesus will go looking. He will light a lamp, make a thorough sweep, and search carefully for us, just like the woman who lost her silver coin.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
– Luke 15:4 NIV
What about the lost boys? Have you ever noticed it is the father in the Parable of the Lost Son who leaves his rightful place of honor to meet and seek both of His children? We usually focus on how he ran to meet his youngest son, but Luke 15:28 tells us, “The older brother became angry and refused to go in [to the homecoming celebration]. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” This father didn’t just run to meet the returning young brother who was rehearsing his repentance speech, he also humbled himself to seek out the older one; the one who was begrudgingly obedient, prideful and wrongly motivated with a hard, selfish heart.
I once heard that in Jewish culture a respected man would never run because he would have to lift his robes to do so. It would be considered “beneath” a man of status. The Prodigal’s father wasn’t concerned with how he looked though. He was filled with compassion. So, he ran to meet his boy. He also sought out and pleaded with his oldest son to come join the rest of the family. Our heavenly Father does the same thing.
Don’t you just love it? I have been the Prodigal. And, heaven knows, I have been the prideful older brother, pouting outside the party, refusing to go in because, in my estimation, God’s goodness was somehow “better” toward someone else than it was to me. I love how the father watches with anticipation everyday to see if his lost boy is coming down the road. He must have been watching for him because Luke 15:20 tells us while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. You don’t see something far off unless you are intentionally looking for it. Before the practiced speech was given, the father was running to meet and embrace his son. He was lost, but now is found. Before the older brother even had the chance to come to his senses, the father came out and pleaded with him (v. 28). He too was lost, and the father went to find him.
I know what it is to be lost. I know how good it feels to be found and to find that which is treasured.
This parable Jesus is telling doesn’t give away how the other brother responded to his father’s pleading, and I think it’s by design. Just like so many in Jesus’ audience, we tend to be more like the big brother than the prodigal. I know I am. I haven’t demanded my inheritance and run off to do God-knows-what in a foreign country, but I have, at times, assessed my circumstances and determined I’d been given the short end of the stick. So, being able to choose how the older brother responds makes all the difference in the world.
Whether or not you can relate to the lost sheep or the lost coin, every one of us can identify with these two lost boys. We all get to choose whether to remain lost or be found. No matter how long it takes, Jesus will never stop looking for us. And, when we decide to join the party, all will be forgiven, full restoration will be granted, and there will be great rejoicing!
Joeli Mulligan is a Christian dramatist, speaker, singer and sometimes blogger. Check out her website at: SpeechlessMinistries.org