By David Faust
Lost. That has to be one of the saddest words in the English language. Consider the cheerless tone of sentences like these: “She lost her job. He lost the election. They lost a fortune in the stock market. Your team lost the game. My computer lost a document. Our company lost a client. She lost her health. He lost his mind. The accident victims lost their lives.”
If lost is a sad word, seek sounds hopeful, and found sounds downright triumphant. Miners trapped hundreds of feet below ground feel hopeful when they hear tapping sounds that suggest someone is aware of their plight and seeking to rescue them. A hiker lost in the woods rejoices to see a helicopter circling overhead.
We Seek Him
We’re all designed to be seekers. Lose something valuable, and you won’t be at peace until you find it again.
Deep down, we’re all designed to seek God. Our souls need God like our lungs need air, like a flower needs water and sunshine. Without him, we wither and wilt. When we stray from God, our souls long for him. We miss him even when we don’t realize he is what we need.
Moses told the Israelites they would be scattered in exile among foreign nations, yet he added a word of encouragement: “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). Those who come to God in faith discover that “he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
He Seeks Us
It’s good when we seek God, but Jesus told three stories in Luke chapter 15 to illustrate how God seeks us. All three stories came in response to Jesus’ critics who muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (v. 2). All three stories involve something valuable that is lost (a sheep, a coin, a son), and there’s an intensifying progression in the percentages lost: one sheep out of 100, one coin out of 10, one son out of two.
All three stories involve personal effort or risk on the part of the seeker. The shepherd leaves the rest of his flock to find the lost sheep. The woman lights a lamp and diligently sweeps her house until she finds the lost coin. The father gives valuable property to a wayward son who leaves home and squanders his wealth in a distant land.
All three stories speak about the joy of recovering the lost. The shepherd hoists the stray sheep onto his shoulders and carries it home, calling to his friends and neighbors, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (v. 6). The woman “calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin’” (v. 9). The father celebrates the prodigal son’s return by throwing a party.
Without God’s grace, we all are lost sheep, lost coins, lost sons and daughters. But once we’re found by God’s grace, we become seekers ourselves. We join the Good Shepherd combing the hillsides, the homemaker sweeping every corner of her house, the heartbroken but hopeful dad standing on the porch scouring the horizon for any sign of his son’s return. And when the lost is found, we all get together and celebrate, for “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (v. 10).
1. In Jesus’ stories, do you relate most to the searching shepherd, the prodigal son, or the prodigal’s father?
2. What will you do this week to seek someone who is lost?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for August 11, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Timothy 3:11–16
1 Timothy 4
1 Timothy 5:1–15
1 Timothy 5:16–25
1 Timothy 6:1–10
Nehemiah 1, 2
1 Timothy 6:11–21