What happens when I lose something? At first, I mentally retrace my steps trying to figure out where I left it. I try to choose patience but often become frustrated, first with the stupid object that I lost, then with myself for losing it. I might also get distracted and go do something else, or become riled because searching is such poor use of my time. At that point, I will pray — if I didn’t think of that in the first place.
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (Luke 15:4–5)
The Bible says that every human is lost. That is, sin separates us from God and keeps us from fellowship with Him. Many are not aware of this and like wandering sheep, go from this morsel to the next, unaware that they are meandering toward danger and eventual death. Those who are aware may frantically try to find their way to the sheepfold, but without success. Our best efforts are useless because lost sheep need a change of nature to get into that place of eternal safety.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:3–7)
Today’s devotional reading reminds me again of the attitude of my heavenly Shepherd. While a human sheep-chaser might get angry, the Shepherd does not. His search is motivated by love and He will not fume and fuss, but eagerly and tenderly pursues the one who is lost.
He did that with me. I can remember Him calling. I ignored it at first. Then He made me aware of my surroundings and with that, I had a sense of the peril I was in. I began to look for a way out of danger. My search included all sorts of philosophies, all self-effort. None of them gave that sense of peace and safety that I was seeking.
Then the Shepherd found me. I was deep into my search and getting closer to a cliff when He rescued me from my own ignorance and sin. The moment I realized who He was, I was instantly in His care and rejoicing along with Him. The lost had been found.
The Shepherd never became frustrated or annoyed. He was never distracted nor did He give up. I ran, hid, and struggled on my own without paying attention to Him, but He pursue me until He found me.
I learned later that Jesus is motivated by an irresistible love and must continue His search until He succeeds. There is no stopping Him. In unstoppable grace and mercy He accomplishes His quest and makes the wayward sheep His own, forever and never to be lost again.
Today’s devotional writer turns my attention to Jesus’ charge to go into all the world and make disciples. This too is a seeking of the lost. Do I look for them in the same way Jesus does? Or am I more like myself when I have lost something in my house or at the bottom of my purse?
Do I get discouraged with rebuffs and rejection? Do I get frustrated or even angry that this is a waste of time? Heaven forbid. I need to remember that I also ran from God and tried to put Him out of my life. Even when He turned my interest toward Him, I wanted to find Him on my terms, not His. But He was not put off nor did He turn aside. He persevered with me for He had even died for my lost soul.
As the devotional says, my attitude should be that same persevering love that is willing to seek until it finds. Whether this means to “live or die, work or suffer” or “whether the time is short or long or the way is smooth or rough” the heart of God lives in my heart. I must allow Him to make a shepherd of me — so I too am seeking the lost and pointing them toward His fold, finding them until they find Him, pursuing until He grants them grace to believe, even as He pursued me and granted me that same mercy and grace.