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March 22, 2012

Going to find lost sheep — now where did I put my car keys?

by Dave Malnes

The Bible talks about the need to find lost sheep or the urgency to find a lost coin — I have enough trouble trying to find my lost keys, my misplaced wallet, or my cell phone.  I begin looking in the usual places.  Not on top of my dresser.  Not on my desk.  Not hanging on my key ring.  And not sitting on top of the kitchen counter.  Anger seeps into my thoughts sprinkled with words of frustration expressing disbelief over my lack of intelligence and foresight.  Feeling like a fool, the house and garage is carefully combed over looking for these valuable possessions.  Even the wife is quickly called to join the frantic search party.  And there is great rejoicing and euphoria of relief when the keys are found, the wallet uncovered, or the cell phone revealed.  Condemnation dissipates and normalcy returns. The comfortable rhythm of life continues.

Finding important lost possessions disrupts our day.  It’s annoying.  It’s cumbersome.  And quite often we feel like a fool searching for what is lost, because we feel it’s our responsibility.

I have tried to personalize the biblical stories Jesus shared of finding lost sheep or a lost coin.  Quite often, I fail to re-generate the sense of urgency that is expressed in both stories.  Maybe because I don’t have the same sense of ownership.  I can appreciate trying to find a lost coin in the floorboards of a house.  Culturally speaking, it would be like trying to find a lost engagement ring.  I can fathom the responsibility and urgency of trying to find a lost document or report at work that the owner is demanding to see.  In the same way, the shepherd feels a sense of responsibility when one sheep under his care goes missing.  But, I’m detached when reading these stories.  That lost sheep is not my responsibility.  I’m the one who didn’t lose that coin.  Now, I’m being asked to help?  I’ll look — but maybe the sense of urgency is not quite there.  Is that being sinful?

Then, it hits home.

Somebody stole my car.  My house has been broken into.  My job is at stake.  Or worse, my child goes missing.  The urgency rises up a few thousand notches.  And, that’s what Jesus tries to do with these stories.  In some way, it’s like trying to sell insurance policies.  It’s not very meaningful or urgent until you need it.

God’s children are lost and he is simply asking us to help find them.  Like a parent going door-to-door throughout the neighborhood trying to find a lost child.  The panic is in her eyes.  The desperate look for help.  Yes, it can disrupt our day.  Yes, it can be seen as annoying or even cumbersome for us to help look. There is even a part of us, we dare confess, that says, “They are lost on their own account.  They have chosen the wrong path.  They don’t listen to me for direction.”  In the rhythms of life, we easily lose the sense of urgency when it doesn’t affect us personally.

Yet, there he is.  Can you see him?  Out in the morning mist, I can picture Jesus in the distance searching with a hand on his shepherd’s crook.  He takes this personally.  These are his children.  He loves them.  He has the nail marks on his hand to prove it.  Perhaps I can join him.  Like he says, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Yes, perhaps I can disrupt my rhythm of life and join him in the search.

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