January 26, 2013

Joy when the lost are found

When Jesus finds the sheep who are lost (souls that are spiritually wandering far from God), He must be like the shepherd described in His parable:
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ (Luke 15:5–6)

How do I know that? Because when a lost sheep is found, they will tell someone their good news, and when I hear about it, I rejoice. My response is spontaneous and far greater than my delight over human accomplishments. 

For instance, my granddaughter wanted chickens and fresh eggs for her family. In her town, it was against the law to have chickens, so she went to city council and somehow got the law changed. She now has chickens, even made the pages of the local newspaper for her spunky efforts. This story delights me, partly for what she did and partly that she did it legally instead of simply breaking the law as many others do. However, should she or anyone else in my family hear the call of Jesus and be “found” by Him, my joy would be deeper, richer and perhaps louder! That kind of joy stretches from the bottom of the heart all the way into eternity.

Why is that? What makes the friends and neighbor of the shepherd rejoice over found sheep? Perhaps it is because in actual sheep situations, they have had the same experience of losing and looking for the lost. They also know the delight of finding and can share in that delight. 

In the spiritual realm, my delight parallels the depth of my understanding of “lost” — the more aware I am of the peril of being lost, the more excited I am to hear that a lost person has been found. 

That delight also parallels the love I have for those sheep. If I care about someone who is lost, then I will be praying that Jesus will bring them to the path that leads to God and eternal life. I’ve noticed that the more I pray for anything or anyone, the more I feel invested in the outcome. That is, when Jesus rescues someone I love and have had on my prayer list, my joy almost puts me in orbit. 

My delight also parallels the “lostness” of the sheep. While ‘lost’ is lost, some are only just outside the fence yet others are on the edge of a cliff. In both, spiritual lives are in grave danger. However, in some cases the choices the sheep make puts their physical well-being in danger also. So when Jesus pulls one of those sheep off the edge of a cliff, my heart (that has been in my throat) rejoices to see that sheep being tenderly placed on a safer path.

Lately as I pray, I think about these words from Jesus: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Full joy is fine with me, but because of His promises, my prayers are focused more on those lost sheep.  

No comments: