We are going to take a little larger chunk than usual and look at two parables today. They are about searching diligently for something lost; the lost sheep and the lost coin. They are directed at the Pharisees in answer to their condemnation of Jesus for associating with “sinners.”
Jesus shared a similar parable with His disciples and Matthew recounted it to us. The search was the same but this one focused on children specifically. We looked at in the story title One Little Lost Lamb.
The story of the lost coin is only seen in Luke’s gospel account, along with this slightly different lost sheep parable. I love the celebration at the end of both parables! Let’s look at them both and see where they take us.
While I was thinking about today’s reading, I was reminded of a post one of my friends made on Facebook. Yes, I have a Facebook account. Guilty as charged. Anyway, she was talking about Spring cleaning and finding something that had gone missing months ago. I was prompted to recognize the difference in her search and the characters in our stories.
My friend was not “searching” for anything. Instead, she was doing deep cleaning in areas that she normally doesn’t deal with. But the woman searching for her coin and the shepherd searching for his sheep were SEARCHING! They were looking everywhere! NO place was too small, too obvious, too obscure, or too much trouble for these two. They did everything in their power to find that lost item and they didn’t give up until they had found it.
This isn’t to say that the 99 sheep or the 9 coins weren’t valuable, but that the whole was incomplete without the last one. Our characters didn’t give up until all was whole again. Then the shared this exciting accomplishment with all those nearby.
This is how Jesus says He searches for lost souls. He is relentless. He searches EVERYWHERE! There is NOWHERE we can hide from Him. And He doesn’t give up. He reaches out daily in so many ways to people who have refused His pleas. He places “wake-up signs” right in front of them, hoping to get their attention. He whispers in the wind calling their name. He entices them to stop and think about the beauty and aroma of the flower. He stirs that empty place in their soul that only He can fill. All in an effort to get them to notice Him. And He does it completely out of love. His love is pure and overflowing. He is longing to pour that love into their lives too.
This, my brother and sister, is how Jesus wants us to love the hurting world too. Love them right into the Kingdom. Be relentless in your desire for them to have a personal encounter with Him. Be willing to “point at the signs” along the way. Don’t badger, but be willing to give an answer in any situation. Be genuine in your relationship with Him so that they actually desire what you have. Don’t condemn others for their sins, but don’t participate with them either. I can guarantee that they are condemning themselves enough for both of you. Love them even when they are in the muck and mud.
Jesus talks about what happens in Heaven when even one sinner repents. I know the joy I feel when one of my family or friends turns to Jesus. Magnify that by 10,000 and you might get close to what Jesus feels. He made us. He longed for us to love Him from the very first moment of our existence. He never gave up on ANY of us. I believe He dances and sings with every new birth in His Kingdom. Tears of joy flowing down His face.
I was also prompted about the need to do Spring cleaning in our hearts too. I push aside or leave for later the little things I don’t want to deal with right away. Before you know it, there is a pile in every corner. All the things we thought didn’t matter added up to a huge mess. We are not supposed to live this way, but often we do anyway. The Holy Spirit starts directing our attention to those piles and encourages us to do something about them. The pile of “little slights” that is now a ball of resentment. The group of quick peeks at “harmless pictures” that has now become an addiction. The list of “oops, I forgot” that has now become an entrenched pattern of neglect. It is time for Spring cleaning. Once it is done, you quickly recognize how with a moment’s care for the little things, reduces Spring cleaning to nearly nothing the next time.
Father God, thank You for searching so diligently. Thank You for NEVER giving up. Thank You that there is nowhere I can hide from You. Thank You for all the road signs along the way; even the neon flashing ones. Please place some of these right outside my son’s bedrooms! My heart beaks for them and where they are right now, but I know a rejoicing is coming. You promised me one and I’m holding onto that promise! I wish I could see the party in Heaven when they each come home. Thank You that You know their hearts and know how to reach out to them. All I know to do is love them right where they are, live as best as I can in front of them, and pray for them every time You bring them to my mind. I place them in Your hands. ALL my family who have wandered away or never really met You. NO WAY can they claim ignorance of You! Not with my mom and dad, Steve and me, and so many others in our family sharing You and Your love at every opportunity. Thank You for so many “workers” in my bunch!