Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not 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.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:3-10, NIV)
This week, as I was leaving my early morning self-torture session one day, I overheard Patrick at the front desk say something along the lines of "Good, I'm glad you found it." It turned out that another member of the club had lost something of value and thought it might be there. It turned up at the member's house, so all was well in the end and the caller had just wanted to share the news. I mulled this over with Patrick for a while and took his prompting to turn it into a Crooked Path entry.
What do you value among your possessions that, if it you suddenly discovered it was gone, you would launch an all-out search for it? This week's entry goes back a few verses from the one last week, and looks at the first two of the three parables Jesus told that are recorded in Luke 15. The point is to ask what do you treasure most, what do you consider of extreme value?
In addition to the three examples in Luke 15, I can easily think of at least four more related stories or encounters where Jesus asked the same question. The parables of the plot of land with the buried treasure, the merchant who found the perfect pearl, and even the farmer who was ready to tear down his barns to house his bumper crop. I'm also drawn to the encounter Jesus had with the rich young ruler, where the Lord asked him to give up everything – and the man went away sighing and shaking his head because he just couldn't part with what he had accumulated. All of these point back to the question, "what do you value the most?"
So now I ask myself the same question. And that leads to a series of sub-questions (I'm feeling a bit like an attorney facing myself). What do I value so much that I'd rip my house apart looking for it should it turn up lost? Am I so focused on "things" that I can't see the obvious answers God provides to all these parables and stories? As I'm sitting here in the warmth and comfort of my house, do I not weep for the people of the world who are lost and dying? Go back to the Luke 15 passage and read all three of the joyous responses from the shepherd, the woman, and the father … "That which was lost (dead) is now found (alive)!" And in the pure joy only that type of response can muster, a great celebration breaks out.
As I travel the Crooked Path, I have a tendency to pick up things along the way and put them into my baggage. If I am not careful (and too often I am not), this makes my baggage heavy and the walk becomes difficult. And should I lose or misplace something that I deem to be valuable, I get grumpy and let everyone around me know it. My problem would seem to be that I don't have a good sense of the value as God sees it.
God wants me to pick up other people along my travel … and then bring them along. We are called to call others in a reflection of the love our Father has bestowed on us. If we can begin to fulfill that call, perhaps we can hear the party breaking out in Heaven every time someone of true "value" comes back to God. That's a far greater "found" to balance out anything material I might have "lost".
- A simple question: what do you value enough to search for when it is lost?
- Have you ever experienced the joy reflected in these stories? Do you know the extent of the worth God places on you and those around you?
- Do you have the tendencies of the rich young ruler? Do you find it hard to give up what you have and change your system of value?
NIV - Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.