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March 2, 2024 | By Jay Ashbaucher

We all go through life losing things and finding things. What does it mean to lose things and what does it mean to find things? One day, I had moved my glasses to the top of my head and later I couldn’t find them. My wife said, they’re on the top of your head. Losing my glasses meant that I could no longer see things important for me to see, things that affect my well-being, for example, reading directions on how to do something. When my wife loses her phone – she says, “Call me so I can find it.” Losing her phone meant she lost her means of communication. If she losses her phone she cannot talk to people about something they need help with, or just sharing about “a great thing” that happened today. Communication is essential for good relationships. I lost my wallet one day. I panicked. “Oh no, this is bad. I lost my driver’s license, credit card, insurance cards for doctor visits, and money.” Not to leave you wondering what happened, an honest and caring man found it on the highway and returned it to my home.Until the things we lose are found or recovered, we don’t live well. Something we need is missing. Jesus told a parable about a lost sheep. A shepherd left his ninety-nine sheep to go and find one that had wandered away. It was lost. It might be in danger of being killed by wolves, or maybe had fallen into a pit. He cares about it. When he finds it, he carries it home, rejoicing that he has found his sheep (Luke 15:3-6). Jesus once said, “I have come to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Is Jesus trying to tell us that we humans have gone away from God, that we’ve lost our awareness of him. To lose our relationship with God is like losing our glasses – we can’t see things God wants us to see. Losing our relationship with God is like losing our phone – we have lost communication – we don’t know how to relate to Him, nor can we hear him speaking to us and guiding our lives. Losing our relationship with God is like losing our wallet – we lose things that make us feel secure, things we need to function well in everyday life.Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. Have we humans REALLY lost our contact with God? Look at the world around you. We live in a divided world that is full of anger and broken relationships. We need to find peace and love and oneness. We have lost the ability to get along with each other. Have we? Really? Our world is torn apart with war and conflicts between nations. Societies experience violence and crime among its citizens. Christian churches and other religious groups are split apart by differing sects and beliefs. Marriages have conflicts and divorces over abuses or irreconcilable differences. Family members have quarrels with other family members. Neighbors can’t get along. Kids feel bullied and unaccepted by their peers in school. We can’t even get along with ourselves. Within our inner lives we are haunted and damaged by things like a poor self-identity, guilt, anxiety, depression, loneliness, fears, self-centeredness, addictions, disappointments, and confusion about our role and purpose in life. We carry hurtful baggage into adulthood from dysfunctional upbringing. Perhaps we were affected by physical, verbal, or sexual abuses. We humans even find ourselves lacking peace and oneness with nature, for it gives us unwanted diseases, destructive storms, dangerous animals, and inescapable death.

All of this is not to say there is no human goodness, or awesome beauty in nature, or positive things happening in our lives and world. Nor do I wish to throw a damper on all of you positive thinkers out there. I would simply have us acknowledge the truth that there are wrongs and evils at work in our world, and those things hinder or prevent love, unity, and peace. There is something inside of us that says, “life should not be this way; something seems wrong, something is not good.” Is it not reasonable to conclude that life in this world is broken and needs fixing? What needs fixing is that we are a lost people. And chief among our lostness in that we have lost a right relationship with God. Lostness means losing what I need for my well-being, for my life to be lived successfully, for my life to be what it is supposed to be or needs to be. Finding means my well-being is restored, but how? Jesus is the good shepherd who cares about all who are lost. He came to seek and to save that which is lost.

Jesus told another story about two lost sons. The father loved his sons very much, but neither son realized how much he loved them. They were lost because they had not experienced the depths their father’s love. They did not know that true peace, happiness, freedom, and enjoyment of life’s good pleasures came from knowing and possessing the love of their father. The younger son, apparently feeling restless and too restrained at home, wanted to leave the father and journey out to experience greater freedom. The father lovingly gave him the money he needed to leave and find what he was looking for. He thought freedom was doing what he wanted to do. He pursued the life he thought would make him happy, but all did not go as he planned. He did not have what it took to overcome the evils, both within himself, and in the world. He wasted all his money on loose living, and with prostitutes. His own passions enslaved him, he ran into troubles due to failed relationships, and he began to struggle to make life work. Eventually, his own resources diminished, and the help of others failed to satisfy a deep hunger for the life he hoped to find.

One day, this son awoke to the fact that he was alone, his life was in ruin, and he had nothing left, not even his dignity and sense of self-worth. He thought about his father, thinking that life with his father had to be better than the life he was living. He decided go home and admit he sinned and hurt his father for believing that doing his own thing apart from the father was a better way to live. Although feeling shame, and unsure of his father’s response, he would humbly ask his father if he could come back. As he neared home, his father ran to greet him. With unexpected astonishment, the son felt overwhelmed by the non-judgmental warmth and eager love of his father. As the father realized his son’s change of heart, he ordered a great celebration in honor of his return. I suspect that the love he experienced from his father caused his father’s kind of love to be born in his own heart, and through that love, he would discover and live the kind of life that went way beyond what he ever imagined could be possible (1 John 4:19).

The older son, even though he religiously stayed with the father, was likewise ignorant of the father’s love. When he saw how his father loved his disgraceful brother, he was angry and did not attend the welcome home party. If he had truly known the love of the father, he would have loved his brother. To him, love was something to be earned by being good and obeying the father’s wishes. His brother did not deserve to be loved, but to be reprimanded and punished for his shameful, unruly, and delinquent lifestyle. When the stay-at-home son did not listen to his father’s plea to come to the party, he proved to be as guilty of mismanaging life as his brother. In truth, he deserved judgment for his self-righteousness and his refusal to understand what love was all about. I suspect that this son, if never coming to know the father’s lovingkindness, would have a long-standing resentment toward his brother, never allowing him to regain an honorable love and respect. By telling this story, was Jesus trying to tell us that our lives are lost if we are separated from our father’s love? God wants to be our father and save us. He sent his son into the world to seek and save the lost. Jesus knows the way to an abundant and blessed life.

One day man came to me for help. He was homeless and hitch-hiking. He asked for money for food. He carried a 6 pack of beer, so I asked, “If I give you money, how do I know you won’t go out and blow it on liquor? He took me out and dumped it in the street. We got into a conversation. He left the home of a family who was letting him live with them. They cared about him. I asked, “Why would you leave and go back to a life of alcohol and living on the streets?” He said, “I couldn’t stand to fail them and disappoint them.” I helped him, and as he left, I thought, “He can’t let people love him because he thinks he doesn’t deserve to be loved.” Jesus was seeking him. He is lost. He needed to let Jesus find him, and save him, and give him a new life. We are all lost until we are awakened to the truth about ourselves.

A man asked me how he could get God’s life to be in him. I said, “Go to a place by yourself, talk to God, and tell him what you want him to do for you. Then ask him to come into your life and save you.” A week passed and he came back to tell me that he did what I said, and nothing happened. I asked, “What did you expect to happen?” He said, “I expected a bolt of lightning, or a great feeling.” I asked him if he sincerely invited Jesus to come into him. “Yes,” he said. I asked, “Did he come in?” He didn’t know. I explained, “We don’t always know if he is saving us by some feeling we get. We know by believing that Jesus will do what he said he would. If you asked him in, Jesus came in.” He understood and believed. How about you? Do you believe in the lostness of humanity and that Jesus came to seek and save us? Have you been found?

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