Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Are You Looking For?

That sinking feeling when you realize you have lost your phone. Your keys. Your wallet.  Your kid.  Yep, my ex-husband and I lost our daughter at the beach one time.  I don't think there is a worse place to lose a child.  Add to the usual possibilities -- abduction by any one of hundreds of strangers (God forbid) or a terrified, wandering child -- the possibility of her being swept out to sea and, at the very moment you are standing there wondering what to do next, she is drowning and her tiny voice cannot be heard above the roar of the waves.  Guilt.  "Why were we ever allowed to reproduce?!"  "Why didn't I...?"  Then blame - "Why didn't you...?"  All the while, frantically searching.  Once our Teenie Weenie was found, we hugged her and kissed her, and certainly vowed to be more vigilant, but it really threw some cold, hard sobriety into an otherwise playful day off.

Luke 15 tells three stories of loss.  First, the shepherd who has one hundred sheep.  When one strays, he leaves the others to find it.  "When he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders."

The second is a woman who loses one of ten coins -- perhaps her last ten, perhaps coins of great value.  She frantically works to locate the one that is lost.  When she does, she calls her friends in to rejoice.

The third is a son.  A son who, though he has a will and has decided to wander from home, he has rendered his father a victim of great loss.  His father does not pound the pavements in search of him; he does not put up posters or offer a reward.  But we see his father searching the horizon, longing everyday for his lost son's return.  "And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming."  A great banquet is held to celebrate.

What strikes me here, is the increasing value: one percent of the shepherd's wealth, one tenth of the woman's, half of the father's.  Possessions, to a life.  And yet, the scenarios are the same: loss, search, celebration.  We seem to resolve all loss with the same instinctive behaviors.

Luke 19:10 tells us that Jesus is no different: "For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."  There are those who are lost.  The Greek here is "apollymi," a word meaning in peril, loss ruin or headed for destruction.  But Jesus brings hope!  He seeks them.  The Greek for seek is "zeteo," and means to strive after -- active and emotional search; one definition even says "to crave or demand."

All this to say, I have been challenged.  Do I resist talking about what Jesus has done for us?  Do I halfheartedly wonder if the opportunity will come up -- maybe somebody who is really nice, who really seems receptive?  Or do I actively seek out those I believe to be in peril, headed for destruction, lost?  Am I looking for opportunities, or simply waiting for them?  Am I believing that God can do anything, or am I weighing the possibilities on a scale that is "much more rational?"  The Bible says, no guilt; no blame.  Just find them.  Oh, and then?  Celebration!

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