Have I ever told you my three favorite stories from the Bible? Maybe I have…but let’s assume that I haven’t so humor me while I share some thoughts.
Here’s my three favorites:
First, I love the stories about shepherds and sheep. Maybe that’s because I a self-proclaimed “urban chicken farmer” here in Charlotte….and when I read about a shepherd going out to find one sheep who’s missing, it really strikes a chord with me:
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ …” Luke 15:4-6
Next, I love the story about the prodigal son, but not from either of the sons’ perspective. No, I like to think about the story of the father, how he missed and loved his lost son so much that he went running across the field to wrap his arms around him.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
And finally, my third favorite story from the Bible is that of Jesus’ miracle of loaves and fishes. And just like the prodigal son story above, I like to look at this story from the perspective of the young boy, who gives up his lunch of sardines and rolls to Jesus. In the gospel of John, we read:
“One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “Here is a boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. But what difference will these make among so many?” John 6: 8-9
While all three stories have different meanings, there’s one common thread that weaves the passages together: Each is the story of one or more people getting “lost”.
The sheep and shepherd one is pretty straight forward. Jesus says the shepherd will leave the 99 while he goes out to find the one lost one.
And the prodigal son….is that not a story of a “lost” son, who’s found his way back home?
And finally, in the loaves and fishes story, at one point a disciple encourages Jesus to tell the large crowd to go home for they are gathered in a “desolate place”. No one would go to such a place unless they were lost…both figuratively and literally!
But think about the flip side of each of these stories of being lost. A shepherd finds the abandoned one and says His father in heaven would likewise rejoice when we come back home after going astray. A lost son squanders all his share of the family fortunes, gets “lost” but finally finds his way through forgiveness.
And then there’s the crowd of over 5,000 who’ve gathered to listen to Jesus. The people need to eat but there was nothing readily available much less any wages to take down to the local catering company. The crowd is “lost” in a desolate place; lost in the physical sense and lost in the spiritual sense as well.
Jesus has a plan but turns to Andrew as if to say “what would you do, Andrew?”.
I have this vivid vision of what happens next. A small child reaches over to Jesus’ cloak, tugs on it and says, “Here Jesus. You can have my meal. It’s not much….but it’s all that I have.”
Sometimes, we get lost thinking we have to make huge strides and changes in our lives in order to get God’s attention. In actuality, that’s not even close. God wants us to make changes, that’s true. But He’s willing to see the small gestures that demonstrate our faith, trust and belief in Him. Simply put, God wants our heart.
Pretty simple stuff.
A little boy gives up a small meal. And thousands are nourished. Did they have their own provisions and food all along and were just hiding it? Perhaps being selfish? After all, who would go off into the wilderness without some snacks for the journey?
We all get lost in our ways. My prayer this week is that we find ourselves, make the small gestures in the right direction towards our heavenly father, and get on the proper path.
Remember its okay to be lost. For it’s in being lost, that we ultimately find …. ourselves and our way … home.