We recently received a text message from one of our ninth graders which said, basically, “Thanks, but I’m grown up now. It’s been fun, but I don’t think I’ll hang around with you anymore.”
As I have thought about this young man and the searching of youth, I have remembered the “Lost” parables Jesus told his disciples and thought about those stories from a different vantage. Do you suppose that the lost coin “lost” anything in the experience of being lost? The owner of the coin valued it and searched for it and cared that it was lost. But did the coin realize that it didn’t actually fulfill its “Coin-ness” when it was just lying there lost under the corner of the couch? Did it actually know that it was not getting to experience what a coin is really made for? Then, there is the lost sheep. Don’t you just bet that little sheep wandered off over the hill thinking the grass was greener and better and more fun to run through on the other side? And the lost son. We know that he had to find out the hard way that life was hard, the world was cold and it can be really tough for a young man trying to make his way in the world. This is the story that makes my heart sore because it is only after he has gone through hurt and loneliness and broken dreams that the son realizes that he is missing out on his true birthright and comes home.
In our part of the world, temporary bad choices can result in consequences that last a lifetime. It can also mean life or death. So, with a mother’s heart, I pray that our lost sheep will be protected from evil and violence and destruction. I pray that this lost son will discover what he is missing without having to suffer consequences that are too harsh. But, I also understand that he has to make his own choices and even choices for Jesus are best made by those who are choosing for themselves. We so often do things out of conformity or expediency or because something better doesn’t seem to be coming along.
We’re not going anywhere. We’ll keep checking in every once in a while. If anybody’s looking, he’ll know right where to find us or he can call the phone number that hasn’t changed for twenty-plus years. It is my prayer that every chance we get we live and breathe and model that being home with Jesus is full of every good thing, the really best stuff—things that are way better than a beautiful house, a nice car, fine clothes, a ton of friends, a great social life, achievement, awards, success—everything that American culture values. Abundant life is even better than that.
We’d appreciate your prayers for our wandering sheep. I hope you are living the abundant life or are hearing the invitation to come home where you belong.