The Lost and Found
I think we have all had a moment when we laid something down, just for a second, and then forgot that we had placed it there. Hours later and many miles away, we realized that we had left something important behind. It could have been anything from a cellphone, a wallet, a purse, a hat, or a sweater. Something we may have left it in a church pew, on a store counter, at work, or on a bus. And now, our important something is officially lost. But there is still hope!
There are these mysterious areas where lost things are placed sometimes—the Lost and Found. It might be a desk drawer, or a box, or a shelf reserved for these wayward valuables left behind. The Lost and Found gives us one final glimmer of hope that maybe our special item has been turned in by a benevolent soul, and it is now waiting patiently for us to find it and claim it.
This brings to mind the words to the great hymn of faith, “Amazing Grace”: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see”. Every time I sing that hymn, it feels slightly different than the last time, as I find myself drifting between the realms of the “Lost” and the “Found” in my spiritual journey. There is a daily battle for the sovereignty over our souls, and a constant awakening of our day-dreaming spirits.
I believe that God is always trying to lead us from a state of being lost, into a state of being found in Him. It always seems to be much easier to become lost than it is to be found. God treasures each of us beyond measure and as scripture tells us in Luke 15:7: “I tell you that there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
The sobering thought for us is that in this life here on earth, in our sinful human state, we will never be completely found, as we will have moments where we find ourselves led astray by temptation to sin. But our consolation is that even in our “lost” and fallen condition, we are found by the sure salvation of Christ on the cross, and we always have the sure hope of one day being completely found blameless and innocent through God’s amazing Grace.
Our mission then, is to help those lost souls who have not yet been found to discover the hope and grace that ignites a new life in each of us in Christ. And even though we may be able to introduce a person to our Savior and Lord and to encourage them in their faith, it is still solely between them and Jesus as far as their full acceptance of Him, and the sure salvation of their soul. We cannot ever be the judge of when, or how, or even if that sacred bond has taken place in someone else’s heart, and we should never presume to judge someone as “saved” or not.
There is a story about Martin Luther as a young priest. He is trying to comfort the family of a young man who committed suicide. The young man’s family is distraught by the belief at the time that someone who has taken their own life could not be buried in the sacred ground of the Church cemetery because their soul was lost. Luther refused to pass judgment as to the question of whether the boy was “saved” or not, and as he dug the grave himself in that “holy” ground, he taught that it is not ours to judge another’s salvation; rather, but God alone makes that decision.
Heaven might be considered in some simplified way to be a lost and found for souls, and we who are left here surviving the loss of loved ones can take solace in the thought that they are safe in God’s eternal care. Who might we find there in the lost and found in Heaven? There may be many whom we expected to find there, those who showed all the outward signs of the inward grace of Christ dwelling within them. There may also be many we thought were lost forever--those whose relationship with Christ seemed shaky, and who seemed to be lost more than found in their life on earth. We are all lost, but we are never beyond the reach of God’s Grace in Christ. We are never too lost to be found by our God.
Rev. Rick Phillips
Pastor, Grace United Methodist Church, Plant City