COLUMN: Lost and found

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By Jon Rohr

Have you ever lost anything and been frantic to find it? The other day I lost a little security tag that turns off the alarm in my car. I searched for it for over an hour. Several friends came by wondering why I was searching my car, so they helped. I had it in my hand, in the car, the door was closed, I bumped the gearshift, heard a clink and it was gone. A few days later I tore that car apart, took out the mats, vacuumed under the seats, checked in all the pockets and cracks I could find. Now the car looks great inside, but that little security tag is still missing.
Maybe you lost a check someone gave you, maybe you lost your keys or your engagement ring, but all of us have lost things from time to time. Sometimes they are useful things, like keys, sometimes they are precious things, like rings, and so we search and search. Thankfully our searches usually end in success. We find what we were looking for and generally shake our heads and say, “Oh yeah, I remember putting that there.”
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about finding something that was lost. First a sheep is lost from the flock, and when the shepherd finds it, he rejoices with his friends. Then there is a woman who loses a coin. She searches her house to find it and also celebrates. Finally there is the parable of the lost son; you may have heard him called the “Prodigal Son.”
The prodigal son is not lost by accident or mishap; no, he is lost because of his choices. He chooses to leave home. He chooses to waste his money and his life, and ends up reaping the terrible reward of his choices. Only then does he turn his eyes toward home. Only then does he run back to his father.
And all the time, the father is waiting, looking down the road to see if his rebellious son will return. God’s word says, “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 NIV). The son was still a long way off, but the father saw him coming. The father ran to meet him and rejoiced.
In the grand scheme of things a little security tag doesn’t mean much. In fact a lot of the things that matter to us don’t really matter in the long run, but people do. You see Jesus died so that we would have a way home.
Maybe you have a friend or a child who has made some terrible choices, keep hoping, encouraging, and praying for them. Be ready to run out to meet them on the road home. Or maybe you have been the wayward child, making all the wrong choices and ending up in terrible places. Remember this: We all have a heavenly father who waits for us. He is looking for you. When you take that first step toward him, he will run to meet you.