One of the most terrifying moments of my life was when I was lost.
I was but a child and I knew I was in a big store, but that was about it, except for the fact that I was alone. There were lots of other people around, but I did not know any of them; they were all strangers to me. I had come to the store with my mother, but somehow we had become separated. As soon as I realized that fact, I became more terrified than I can recall ever being before.
Being lost and alone is a terrifying thought. To experience it is absolute terror. We were not created to be alone, yet I am sure that there have been times when you felt that you were all by yourself, with no one to talk to, no one to share your heart with. Some people think that man created God to explain the inexplicable and to avoid being alone. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
God created us to be with him. We were created out of love, for God is love and we were created in his image – the image of love. That is why being alone terrifies us so much. We were made to love and to be loved. One cannot love alone. Love cannot exist in a vacuum. Love requires another to interact and grow with, and our greatest need is to know and be known by God; to love and to be loved by our Creator. That is why he sent his Son; to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Are you lost? Do you know the love of God, or do you believe you are alone, orphaned by the very world in which you live?
Jesus gave us a wonderful illustration when he said,
I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit alone but must remain in me.
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing. If any do not remain in me, they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies. People pick up dead branches, throw them into the fire, and burn them. If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you. You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father. I loved you as the Father loved me. Now remain in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and I remain in his love. In the same way, if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.
This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:1-17, New Century Version
Our natural desire is to love and to be loved. Love, based upon human nature, will never fulfill our need for the love only God can give. When we love the one who gave his life for us that we might be reconciled to God, we will never be disappointed. Let us love one another as he has loved us and enjoy the fruit of that love.
Who are the “lost” and how does God respond to them? We use our physical sense of sight to determine where we are. The eyes in our head tell us if we are in familiar territory. If someone loses their sight or are born blind, they use their other senses to help them navigate through the physical realm of life. But what do you use to navigate the spiritual realm? How keen are the eyes of your heart? Are you spiritually blind and lost?
Isaiah 53:6 says;
We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us! (Isaiah 53:6, The Living Bible)
We are all lost until we belong to Christ. Isaiah speaks of Israel straying from God and compares them to wandering sheep. Yet God would send the Messiah to bring them back into the fold. We have the hindsight to see and know the identity of the promised Messiah who has come and died for our sins. But if we can see all that Jesus did and still reject him, our sin is much greater than that of the ancient Israelites, who could not see what we have seen.
I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, as the Father knows me. And my sheep know me, as I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
John 10:14 -16, New Century Version
Have you given your life to Jesus Christ, the “good shepherd” or are you still wandering like a lost lamb?
Are you embarrassed to think that you might be lost? Are you afraid of what others might think if you were to admit it? Which is more important to you – what other people think about you or what God thinks about you?
Then Jesus told them this story: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep but loses one of them. Then he will leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the open field and go out and look for the lost sheep until he finds it. And when he finds it, he happily puts it on his shoulders and goes home. He calls to his friends and neighbors and says, ‘Be happy with me because I found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, I tell you there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes his heart and life, than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to change.
Luke 15:3-7, New Century Version
The lost are of great value to God. It may seem foolish for the shepherd to leave ninety-nine sheep to go search for just one. But the shepherd knew that the ninety-nine would be safe in the sheepfold, whereas the lost sheep was in danger. Because each sheep was of high value, the shepherd knew that it was worthwhile to search diligently for the lost one. God’s love for each individual is so great that he seeks each one out and rejoices when he or she is “found.” Jesus associated with sinners because he wanted to bring the lost sheep—people considered beyond hope—the gospel of God’s kingdom. If you feel far from God, don’t despair. He is searching for you.
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins, but loses one. She will light a lamp, sweep the house, and look carefully for the coin until she finds it. And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Be happy with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life.
Luke 15:8-10, New Century Version
God takes special effort in seeking out the lost. Palestinian women received ten silver coins as a wedding gift. Besides their monetary value, these coins held sentimental value like that of a wedding ring, and to lose one would be extremely distressing. Just as a woman would rejoice at finding her lost coin or ring, so the angels would rejoice over a repentant sinner.
Every one is precious to God. He grieves over every loss and rejoices whenever one of his children is found and brought into the kingdom. Perhaps we would have more joy in our churches if we shared Jesus’ love and concern for the lost.