Lost and Found

Many years ago, I encountered an angry woman and a chagrined man frantically searching for a lost item at a beach access. I was headed to the beach and they were leaving when apparently he threw her engagement ring to her as they were trudging over the dune, heavy laden with chairs, towels, etc. Well, as you can guess, she didn’t catch it and it landed somewhere in the sand.

It was their loud arguing that caught my attention as I crossed the road to the access. She was berating him for being stupid enough to toss the ring to her in the first place. He was countering with how clumsy she was to have not caught it. I was amazed at the entire scene. Not to take sides but come on! Who throws good jewelry at the beach? That’s just a disaster waiting to happen. And it did.

So, I put my stuff down and joined the search. As we sifted and dug, I told them that I was praying Luke 15 over them. They did not know the reference, so this gave me an opportunity to share this Scripture with them as we searched:

Luke 15 (The Message)

15 1-3 By this time a lot of men and women of questionable reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Jesus is terrifically concerned with lost things, especially lost souls. The Pharisees and religion scholars who believed that certain types of people don’t belong in church missed the point that Jesus took IN the sinners, ate with them, and treated them like old friends.

We must do likewise.

8-10 “Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

After about ten more minutes of searching, I found the ring. The look of joy (her) and relief (him) on their faces was worth the effort and they walked across the dune holding hands. I was grateful for the strange opportunity to witness to my faith.

Are you lost today? Have you wandered away from God? Do you need a rescue?

Jesus is not only willing, but very able to come and find you. Look and see! Your deliverer comes.

Good Shepherd by Kitty Hawk United Methodist Church

What Lasts Forever

Can you name something that lasts forever? A few things that come to mind for me are chewing gum under a school desk, grudges, a Barbie doll’s haircut, an unflattering picture, the cycle of annual tax bills, and finally, GLITTER. Heaven and earth could all pass away, but glitter will last forever.

I am reminded of a fellow pastor’s office couch after a wedding. The bridesmaids had glitter on their skirts and apparently spent a lot of time waiting on his couch. The preoccupied pastor sat down on Sunday morning to prepare to preach and didn’t notice the glitter. But the congregation did. As he processed into the sanctuary, his black robe was all sparkly across his rumpus. It was even more pronounced as he passed by the sunlight streaming though the side windows. It was glorious.

The poor man spent weeks wiping, lint rolling, vacuuming, etc. to no avail. That pastor has been gone for years, but I bet if you went into his office today, you would still find glitter embedded in the fibers.

Happily, there are other things that last which are more significant and even hopeful. We continue our study of Psalm 111 today. See if you can spot God’s promises of things that last longer than glitter:

Psalm 111 continued (Common English Bible)

God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people
    and gave them what had belonged to other nations.
God’s handiwork is honesty and justice;
    all God’s rules are trustworthy—
        they are established always and forever:
        they are fulfilled with truth and right doing.

Powerful deeds.

Honesty

Justice.

Trustworthy rules. (Which are good only if you follow them.)

TRUTH.

Right doing.

God sent redemption for his people;
    God commanded that his covenant last forever.
        Holy and awesome is God’s name!
10 Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins;
    sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws.
        God’s praise lasts forever!

This list has so many superlatives, it is breathtaking. Redemption! God’s covenant! God’s name! Knowledge and wisdom! (But only if you keep God’s laws.)

And when we put our lives under the authority of everything that will last forever, we add our voices to the chorus of praise, which also lasts forever.

Are you putting your hope in temporary things? Are you counting on earthly governments to bring justice? Are you investing in a human relationship that may not last? Are you distracted by all of the world’s “glitter” and ignoring the permanence of God’s covenant with you?

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but the name of the Lord lasts forever.

His Love Endures Forever by Susie Fitch-Slater