Once Lost, Now Found
By Morgan Stoecklein
Recently, I learned of Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, who lost the password to his hard drive. That doesn’t sound like much of a story until you discover that his small hard drive, known as an IronKey, holds 7,002 Bitcoin – worth about $220 million. Yikes.
Have you ever lost something? Sure you have. A sock, the remote, your keys. Last month my friend lost her car. She called me and my husband to tell us that her car had been stolen. The garage door was left open and her car was nowhere to be found. How could she make the mistake of flaunting her 2005 Toyota Corolla in all of its bright red glory for tempted thieves roaming the suburbs of Kansas City? The police were on their way. The neighbors were starting to gather and gossip. My friend examined the skid marks on her garage floor, imagining the bandit speeding away, windows down, blasting Taylor Swift’s newest album. My friend lost something of value to her and her husband, and they were sorrowful.
In his 3 years of ministry on earth, Jesus speaks often about the lost . And in Luke 15 he shares a few parables, simple stories used to illustrate a point, about the lost being found. He tells of a good shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, a woman who searches for a lost coin, and a good father who welcomes home his lost son. Jesus uses these three stories to lead the Pharisees into a deeper understanding of who God is. He is a God who welcomes the repentant sinner into his kingdom and receives them with open arms. He brings them out of the darkness and into the light, no matter how far gone they may seem.
Repentance calls for rejoicing:
Jesus begins with a story about a good shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in his pasture to go after one lost sheep. And when he finds the sheep, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and takes it home. Next, the shepherd calls together his friends and neighbors and collectively they rejoice. In love, The Good Shepherd bears the burden of his people, and in joy, he welcomes them back. This act takes place on the cross, where the Son of God takes on the sin of the word and in turn we are welcomed in as children of God when we accept this sacrifice given for us. The Lord has extended many gifts to his people, one of those being the ability to repent. To make a 180 degree turn from our sin, our wandering, and go back to the Good Shepherd who lifts us up on his shoulders and brings us home with Him. Each and every sheep matters to a Good Shepherd. His love for them knows no bounds. No wonder our God in Heaven is overjoyed by the sinner who repents and returns home.
God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Found in the light:
Jesus shares again about a woman who has lost one of her ten silver coins. “Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” Jesus says.
Recently, our power went out. After a few hours of this I turned to my husband (the dark abyss before me) and asked him to pass me the flashlight.
“I thought you had it?”
We (he) lost the flashlight. We (I) felt a little perturbed. We didn’t have the luxury of turning on the lights to search for our lost flashlight, like the woman in our story.
In the light she finds her lost coin. And when she finds it, like the good shepherd, she calls her friends and neighbors together to rejoice. God, in His light, seeks diligently to bring lost souls to himself. He lights and guides our path, he opens our eyes to the light of the gospel, and he brings us out of the darkness and to Himself.
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
All are welcome:
Lastly, in an attempt to get through to the Pharisees, their nametags flaunting “HELLO MY NAME IS: holier-than-thou”, Jesus shares again about the lost being found.
A son gone off, already having squandered the inheritance from his father, envying the pigs, is now considering returning back to the Father he betrayed. And in Amazing Grace, the father welcomes his reckless, filthy son back, with a warm embrace and kiss.
We’re all the prodigal son, at one point lost. But, are you now found? Have you turned, like the prodigal son, in your time of need, towards the Father, who throws his arms around you and (you better believe) calls his friends and neighbors together to celebrate and rejoice? That’s not unlike our Father in Heaven, who calls all the Heavenly host together to rejoice over the once lost, now found. The invitation to return, to say the old life is gone, the new creation is here, is open to all.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
“Church!” my friend’s husband exclaimed.
“What?” said my friend.
“Our car is at church!”
She wasn’t sure how her husband so certainly knew that their neighborhood car thief dumped their car at the church they belonged to, but in that same moment remembered that they drove to church separately the day before. And home together. They forgot their whip in a far off parking lot, but alas she left her Kansas suburb, filled with a million Toyota Corollas, to the open country and went after the lost red ‘rolla until they found it, sitting alone in front of Holy Trinity Church. Together, the neighborhood, the police, my friends and my husband and I, we all rejoiced!
The car, the sheep, the coin, and the son. All lost and now found. Poor Stefan Thomas.
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”