I’ve lost my gym membership card again. This is, like, the 87th time.
I’ve looked for it everywhere – under my car seats, on my office desk, in the pockets of my workout pants. I’ll have to go to the front desk of the gym again and sheepishly ask if anyone has turned it in. Cue the eye rolls of the employees who have done this song-and-dance with me before. If they don’t have it, I’ll have to shell out five bucks for a new card. I’m surprised my wife hasn’t suggested clipping it on a lanyard and wearing it around my neck like a six-year old at summer camp.
Have you ever felt lost, but no one was looking for you? I have. As a kid, my dad could be really cruel. He didn’t tolerate mistakes, so I spent a lot of teary moments in my bedroom with harsh words hanging over my head or even welts on my backside from his belt. I remember feeling so alone during those times, like I was the dumbest person in the world.
After my 7th grade year, we moved around a lot. If you’ve ever stepped into a new school, you know how lost you feel. I was a nerdy kid with big glasses and a skinny build, so that didn’t help. Bullies found me like mosquitoes find plump picnickers.
In young adulthood, I just couldn’t find my way to peace. I had grand dreams of being a writer or actor, but I kept sabotaging myself mentally – old dad tapes kept telling me how stupid I was for even thinking of such a thing. I felt like everyone around me was moving ahead with their goals and dreams while I was stuck on a remote island.
In my late 20s, after attending church with my wife for a while, I realized I had been found. Nothing super-dramatic happened. No divine visions or visit to heaven. Just a bone-deep realization that a shepherd had found his lost sheep, a woman had located her misplaced coin, a father had kept the doors open for a disoriented son. That’s why I love this trio of tales that Jesus told in Luke 15: they are my stories.
I’ve been lost.
I have felt stranded.
And for those of us who have “been there, done that,” Jesus paints these stunning pictures of a God who comes for us. This isn’t a peevish deity who turns his back on us until we repent, but One who launches search-and-rescue missions while we’re still wandering around in a fog. A God who will go to any length — even death — so His children can be saved.
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All right, back to the search for my lost card. I need to find it because those quarterly visits to the gym are really important to me.