Have you ever lost something important like your keys, your jewelry, or your cellphone? You dig through everything: your house, your car, the couch, even the garbage–are you with me? You try retracing your steps, and saying a quick prayer, in hopes it will turn up? What about your child? Yeah, you heard right, have you ever lost your child? This happened to me twice, as a young mom, and I can remember both instances, as if they were yesterday. The first time it happened, I had just left choir practice. As I was about to arrive home, I decided to call and check on things, when my husband said those crushing words, “Hanson’s with you right?” “What?” “No, I thought he was with you?” Oh no, it dawned on me, he’s still at the church nursery. Frantically, I made a quick U-turn, and high-tailed it back to the church, in a frenzy. When I arrived back at the church, apparently everyone had already left. All except for the PASTOR, of course, and I’ll never forget the look of concern on his face. I don’t even want to know what he was thinking at that moment, like maybe, “What kind of person leaves their child behind like that?” I felt about six inches tall at that moment, but after explaining myself, he completely understood. However, my son hasn’t forgotten about it, and has brought it up on occasion– just to give me a hard time. Maybe you’ve had a similar situation happen to you; or, maybe you were the one who was lost. Let’s admit it, it happens to the best of us. We get so distracted, or just plain careless, and we lose what’s important to us?
Now before I share my other story, I would like to turn your attention to what the Bible says about lost possessions in Luke 15. Luke opens up with the parable of the lost sheep in verses 3-6. The shepherd in this story has 100 sheep in all. Now a shepherd’s whole livelihood is centered around the sheep under his care. So, as he watches over them in the field, he makes sure to count every single one periodically making sure they are all accounted for. However, as he’s counting the 99 that are under his watch, he realizes number 100 is missing. So, he immediately leaves the 99 sheep in the open field, to look for the one lost sheep. When he hears the bleating of his one lost, precious sheep, and finds the poor creature, he joyously carries it back to the fold. So, we, as parents, can take heart that even an overcautious shepherd who is always on alert, can have a stray who wanders off from time to time.
Of course, we, as parents, take every precaution to ensure our children’s safety, just like this shepherd. We might even go as far as putting those horrid, human leashes on them, (which I admit I did when I took my twins to Disney for the first time). Yeah, it felt kind of weird, and I said I would never do that, but hey, I’m glad I did it. In those crowds, it definitely made me feel so much better. But, do we think about the people who are lost in this same manner? Are we constantly concerned for their soul status? Are we cautiously thinking of ways to be a better witness? In v. 7, it compares the lost sheep to a sinner who repents. Jesus says, “. . . there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous, . “
We are faced with opportunities of being around unbelievers all the time. We could be their only compass to point them to the gospel. Jesus’ primary aim is for us to be more concerned over the lost, than we are about our own reputation. The Pharisees needed to hear this message because they wouldn’t be caught talking to the wicked tax collectors, or criminals, for fear of being considered “unclean”. They despised Jesus for welcoming these types of people. Yes, it’s necessary for us to be around fellow believers, for encouragement and friendship; but, we also need to look beyond our circles to reach out to those outside of our comfort zone. It’s not always easy to do this. However, Jesus has shown us His great love, as He sought us out, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”–Ephesians 2:4-6. Also, by building relationships with unsaved neighbors, co-workers, hair stylists, and acquaintances in our everyday routine, we might be just the person God uses to bring someone back to the fold.
Now, you’d think I’d learned my lesson from forgetting my son at church; but unfortunately, I did not. I lost child number two when we were attending a birthday party at Funstation, a popular kids’ entertainment place. The place was noisy, and jam-packed with children and parents, weaving in and out of arcade games like pinballs pinging off rubber bumpers. We were just trying to keep our sanity, while at the same time enjoy ourselves, when all of a sudden we noticed we had one less child. We went into panic mode as we searched for our daughter, who was about 6-years-old at the time. After searching the main floor and the bathrooms, thank goodness, I finally found her crouched down in the far corner of the eating area. She was smart to do that. When I asked her later about it, she said she just wanted to wait for us to come find her. That’s how it is with the lost sheep. They just need a loving person to seek them out. They may be wandering, not even realizing they are lost. So, just as we prepare to take every precaution when it comes to our child’s safety; so, we must do the same to win others with the gospel of Christ. For we know the lost souls are always on His mind. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9.