Blog # 470 Lost and found
In the Bible there is a great deal of coming and going. I was surprised when I looked up the words 'come' and 'go' in my concordance and found the word 'go' is used more than fifteen hundred times and the word 'come' more than eighteen hundred times,
What sent me to the concordance was a phrase in the story of the Prodigal Son in the 15th Chapter of St.Luke's Gospel. He decided to go back to his father, to return home. Previously to that he had decided to leave his father and go away. That is the way it is with the verb to come and to go. When we come to one place we have gone away from another. So I looked up both words and found there is a great deal of coming and going in the Bible.
If we never go anyplace we will never lose the way. But who of us who have done any traveling have not had the experience of making a wrong turn, having an accident, running out of gas, giving up, losing the way. So as long as I had the concordance in my hands I decided to look up the word 'lose' as well as the words 'come' and ' go'. I found the Bible making reference to the possibility of losing time, hope, money, strength, life, reward, self, sheep, wars, confidence, patience, our souls.
In Luke 15 we have Jesus making reference to a lost coin and a lost sheep. Loss entails separation of something from its owner. The younger son in the third reference of Jesus separates himself from his father, and in this sense he can be categorized as lost. The passage refers to three different ways of being lost, and three different responses on the part of the owner. In the first case, the coin was lost in the sense of being separated from its owner. In its natural condition of being without life and consciousness, it has no way of knowing it is lost.
With regard to the sheep. we can well imagine it is out on a hill by itself. bleating, lonely, afraid, and searching. In the case of the prodigal son, for a time he felt all was going well, with money in his pocket, drink in his glass, and friends all around. He was just where he waned to be. But after a while the truth came out. His 'happiness' was gone. He longed for the peace and goodness of home and he wanted to go back.
The response of the woman, the shepherd, and the father in each of the three references is also different. In the case of the coin the woman takes all of the initiative. In the case of the sheep it is shared, the sheep looking for the flock and the shepherd looking for the sheep. In the case of the boy the response of the father is to yearn for the boy's return, but to wait and then to welcome. He is aware of the boy's gift of free will.
If we apply the Gospel passage to current human situations, we find people in each of the three categories of loss. Some people are apparently, through no fault of their own, separated from or unaware of any conscious personal experience of God. They do not pray or see the need for prayer. They are not seeking or aware of anything more than natural human happiness in this life. God, however, loves them. Wishing to share God's love for them with us, Jesus has told us to search for them, go to them, and tell them of God's love as we know it. Each one can be compared to a lost coin. There is rejoicing when it is found.
Like sheep who are lost, some people who do not for the time being have a personal relationship with God are yet looking for something . They have a concern or at least a feeling that something is missing in their lives, there is greater happiness and peace than they know. They are not living lives of sin, but they are nevertheless separated from a personal experience of God's love for them. When they find Him they too rejoice.
In the third category of people who are separated from God are those who are conscious of sin. They too are loved by God, but God respects their freedom, most precious to Him in all His gifts to them, and waits, ready at any moment to welcome them home. There is great rejoicing on the day they come.
Now, how does all of this apply to us? Time is moving, and we are moving along with it, like it or not. 80. 81, 82. 2012. '13' 14 '15... Then the destination, the end; life is over. Questions come. Are we a coin, a sheep, or a boy? Are we already now, living in our Father's house, rejoicing, and determined never to leave again?
Perhaps a way of helping ourselves answer such questions is to ask another. What are we looking for as we go along through life? We go to bed, go shopping, go to sleep, go to the hospital, go to school, go to work, go to a bell game, go to church, go to Grandma's house. Why go anywhere unless we have a reason. God is somehow the answer to all of our questions. When we are aware of this, accept it, and rejoice in it, we are finally home. It should be the happy place destined for us in the Father's love from all eternity!