Is It Worth It?
Growing up on a farm lent itself to doing things that seemed impractical at the time but usually bore fruit in the end. I can remember my dad grousing about losing things off of farm equipment and pointing to a 10 acre field and saying, "It's out there and only God knows where it is." To my mother, all she heard dad say was, "The piece is lost and it ain't gittin' found except by Theone Hughes. I guess mom figured if God knew where lost things were, she would ask him to show her. A ridiculous amount of times, mom found lost things out in the fields and all Ed Hughes could do was shake his head, receive the lost thing, and kiss his wife.
For instance, one particular day a steel pin about three inches long and 3/8 in diameter was lost from the power take off shaft. Dad groused. Mom strolled the field slowly gazing down. I remember this day since I walked beside her. We chatted and she mused about how many things she had found simply because she was persistent and she believed it was worth the effort. As we walked, I doubted our success.
Lo and behold as we traipsed across 4 or 5 acres of hay stubble, mom exclaimed, "Look what I found!" Sure enough, she bent down and retrieved the lost steel pin. I believed.
(Can you see the lost thing in the picture?)
I learned a lot about Jesus while working on a farm and one of the most valuable lessons was this one. If something is lost, God knows where it is. Ask him for help.
I believe Jesus was referring to children when he spoke of the shepherd here in Matthew 18. I am bold enough to add you, me, and yes things into his story. Redemption is always at the heart of God and finding lost things fills the need that God's heart desires to have and realize.
Two weeks ago, Joe and I were hunting in Greenwood. Joe had located into a ravine and awaited my wandering walk down through the forest to see if any game would be seen. As it was, nothing appeared. Joe and I reunited and headed to the highway to walk back to the truck. Joe mentioned he had seen no deer and in the process of walking through the woods had lost a treasured knife. We walked back and forth, to and fro, and then back and forth again that day to no joy. We resigned the fact that the knife was lost.
Today, I had a few hours to spare between meetings and decided to head to Greenwood and wander about a bit. I specifically asked the Lord to guide my steps. Somewhere deep down inside my spirit, I felt a whisper of confidence. Some might say it was something I ate for breakfast. No matter, I began the search. As I walked and scanned the ground, I tried to walk in places that looked like a 19 year old boy might walk. I used the grid system of search and continued on for about 45 minutes. At one point, I internally asked God to reveal the lost thing and rounded a large oak tree and looked down. "Look what I found?" I felt today the same feeling I felt that day out in the hay stubble. For that which was lost and written off was discovered and it was worth the effort!
[The Parable of the Wandering Sheep]
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:10-14, NIV)
When Jesus told this account of the shepherd, he was focusing on the lost thing first, then the faithful tenacity of the shepherd secondly. It is interesting to note the lack of the shepherd's focus on the 99 things that remained found.
Friends, we who count Jesus as our Good Shepherd are safe in the fold and yet there are those lost sheep who have wandered away. Jesus continues to seek them and has asked us to partner with Him in this redemptive work. Is it worth it? Oh yes, it is worth it! 44 years ago it was a steel pin, today it was a treasured knife, tomorrow perhaps a sister or brother who needs to be found and saved by God's grace.
"A Musing Pastor"