The shock on her face was unmistakable. It was a silent proclamation that the panic button had already been pushed and our relaxing Sunday afternoon had just come to a screeching halt. Actual words soon joined forces with the look and the situation gained clarity. “My credit card’s gone,” she said. “I looked everywhere and can’t find it.”
The case of the missing plastic money immediately overshadowed everything and assumed undisputed sovereignty over our priority list. Finding it was the sole objective toward which all available resources were directed. The process was challenging, but we had experienced it before, because strange things sometimes happen in our house. Keys have somehow crawled off on their own to hide in places we would never have intentionally put them. Tax documents have been known to elope with one another in an attempt to assume a new identity in some file folder where they didn’t belong. When I think about our distress in losing even things of temporal value, the impact of losses like the one I learned about recently seem overwhelming.
God’s Response to Losing Things ~
I heard recently that someone among our church family had experienced the tragic death of a child. The term used in conveying the news was that she had “lost” her daughter. We can’t help contemplating the unimaginable pain and distress that accompanies such a loss. Questions about God’s involvement and His reaction are almost impossible to avoid. The 15th chapter of Luke offers a fascinating look at our typical response to losing things as Jesus takes the issue to a higher level, offering a priceless glimpse into the very heart of God.
Harsh criticism of Jesus for engaging in close personal contact with those who were spurned by the religious and social elites of His day initiated this teaching episode. His response was to present three brief stories, each with a common theme. On the surface, they seemed to have nothing to do with the behavior that His detractors found so repulsive. But actually, in repeatedly highlighting the issue of responses to lost things, Jesus was presenting a foundational rationale for His ministry and revealing both the Father’s perspective regarding lost things and His reaction to losing them. Jesus reinforced that, like us, God the Father considers losing things of great value to be intolerable. Like us, the more valuable the treasured item, the more intense and focused His involvement becomes when it is lost. And, like us, the more valuable the loss, the greater the joy, and the more extensive the celebrations that erupt when it is recovered. There is tremendous encouragement awaiting those who observe how God deals with lost things.
Three Stories ~
The stories Jesus offered addressed lost things in different categories and with increasing levels of value. He began by suggesting what their response would be for a shepherd who discovered that one of his flock was missing. What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4 NKJV) Even losing one replaceable item out of one hundred was unacceptable.
Then He pictured a woman who had somehow misplaced a coin of considerable personal value and immediately stopped everything to engage in a diligent search for it. Or what woman, Jesus asked, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8 NKJV) No one would question her reaction to the loss or her reaction to finding it.
Finally, the most challenging “loss” of all–a child who rebelled and abandoned not only his home and responsibilities, but then selfishly squandered his inheritance and made a mockery of his father’s values. This story in Luke 15:11-32 is the most detailed of all Jesus’ parables and conveys most powerfully the Father’s heartache when His children rebel — and His unparalleled joy when they return.
One Conclusion ~
The obvious conclusion is that God isn’t content to leave lost things lost, but it’s easy to miss the extent of that reality, even though we see clues in the very language employed in describing the objective of God’s involvement with us. We see terms like “redeemed,” “restored,” “returned,” “revived,” “recovered,” “found,” “saved,” and the most powerful and priceless of all … “resurrected.” It comes down to this, God has such an intense aversion to leaving lost things lost that He devoted the most profound resources of Heaven to the restoration of what had been taken from Him. As Jesus explained to Zacchaeus, … the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 NKJV)
We’re so paranoid about losing things that we invent mechanisms to ensure against the impact of it. We have insurance policies “protecting” us against the loss of our homes, our cars, our health, our jewelry, the lives of loved ones–even pets–and the impact of losing personal and business relationships. But in spite of all that, without the loss control offered by Jesus Christ, it’s all going to be lost–forever. The corollary truth is that in Him, God has secured the eternal preservation of everything of real value. In Jesus, all the things we really treasure are safely secured for us in Heaven already. The gold and precious jewels we tend to covet here are just building materials there, while the personal fulfillment and deep love relationships everyone longs to find and keep are eternally perfected and preserved there.
Only Two Categories ~
The “loss” of a loved one here can represent the most tragic and devastating event of our lives, and even God may not take that pain away entirely, but He can make it temporary. The loss of valuable treasures in this world can have life-changing impact, but God offers treasure in their place that economic downturns can’t affect and that no thief can steal. Eventually everything we hold dear will join the ranks of things we’ve lost — health, strength, youth, vitality, and unfulfilled plans and dreams, but there’s One who hates losing things worse than we do. He offered Himself in our place on a cross because He isn’t content to leave lost things lost. He only has two categories, “lost” and “found.” Is He rejoicing over you yet, or are you one of those still hiding and hanging onto all that stuff that will eventually be . . . “lost?”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “#GodTheFather considers losing things of great value to be intolerable. Like us, the more valuable the treasured item, the more intense and focused His involvement becomes when it is lost.” @GallaghersPen (Click HERE to Tweet)
- “It comes down to this, God has such an intense aversion to leaving lost things lost that He devoted the most profound resources of Heaven to the restoration of what had been taken from Him.” @GallaghersPen (Click HERE to Tweet)
- “Jesus offered Himself in our place on a cross because He isn’t content to leave lost things lost. He only has two categories, “lost” and “found.” @GallaghersPen (Click HERE to Tweet)
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So glad that God is not content to leave lost things lost. If Jesus hadn’t come looking for me many years ago, I hate to think where I could have ended up . . .
And on a lighter note, did you find the credit card? 🙂
What a bright spot your comments make in my day, Martha, and I share the thought about the day Jesus came looking for me, too. And thanks for the reminder that I didn’t share how the mystery turned out. Yes, we did find the card. It was accidentally dropped into the bag with a purchase and somehow ended up in the trash. Thankfully, my wife decided to dig through the trash as a last-ditch effort and found it. Come to think of it–God was digging through the trash when He found me, too. I hadn’t really thought about that–thanks.