Monday, February 11, 2008

Lost treasures

You can read this post here at Christian Women Online

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:3-7

Several years ago, I went on vacation. My house would be vacant for several weeks, so I put all my jewelry in a Ziplock bag and gave it to my friend Shelly for safekeeping. When I returned, Shelly gave me back the precious Ziplock. I brought it home promptly disappeared.

The first couple of days, I just figured it was lost in the unpacking and would turn up. But the days turned into a week and I began to get worried. All of my jewelry that was even slightly expensive was in this Ziplock, but I was mostly concerned about some pieces that had been handed down to me from my late grandmother.

I began to pray for God to show me where it was. Still no jewelry. After a couple of weeks, I asked some friends to pray that it turn up. No jewelry. Increasingly desperate, I sheepishly asked my bible study group to pray about it. Still no jewelry. I was pretty upset by now, and rather obsessed with finding it. All my friends and family knew I had lost all my jewelry. I spent a good bit of time asking God to show me where it was hidden. It was very important to me that I find it, and the thought that it might be gone forever made me heartsick.

A couple of months later, still not having found it, I visited a Sunday School class. The teacher gave an excellent lesson on the parable of the lost sheep. As he was teaching, the Holy Spirit hit me over the head with that lesson. This is what He said, loud and clear,

"You have searched and searched and prayed and prayed for your lost jewelry. You have enlisted everyone you know to pray with you. How many lost sheep have you prayed for? Missy, do you care more about lost jewelry than lost people?"

After class was over, I sat in the courtyard of the church and sobbed, full of conviction and truly heartsick at the truth of the revelation.

That very evening at home, I opened a dresser drawer - one that I had opened every single day - and the Ziplock fell from the tracks where it had been lodged and appeared before my eyes. I was grateful it was found. But instead of calling all my friends to celebrate, I stared at that bag, smiled sadly, and begged God to renew my heart to seek what he seeks, and to rejoice over what he rejoices over.

Tonight I read in my bible study that in Luke 19:41-42, when Jesus wept over those in Jerusalem whom had rejected his peace, the Greek word klaio is used for wept, which indicates the strongest expression of grief. Jesus wailed for the lost - an agonizing scream of grief! His heart's desire is that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Do I feel this same pain for so many in this word who are do not know him as Lord? Do I cry over my family and friends who do not believe?

Heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd, thank you for seeking and finding us when we were astray. Now please change our hearts to truly grieve for those who do not know you. Please use us to find and love the lost among us, that there may be rejoicing in heaven, for Your glory. Amen.

** More to the Story **
The church where this occurred was First Baptist, where Beth Moore used to teach Sunday School. I had finally managed to visit there with a friend for the sole intent of going to her class. But then a guy comes out and announces that Beth had missed her flight home the night before, and he was the emergency substitute. I was So. Bummed. (I don't know what the sub's name was, but he was an excellent teacher.)

God pulled a bait and switch on me, huh? Baited me with Beth and then whacked me over the head with the message that I needed to hear, that very day. I love when his sovereignty is so obviously displayed in my little life!

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