Summary: Look at the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son to learn the lesson... how can wse get or be lost.

How You Can Be Lost

Luke 15

God PLEASE, I’m begging you like I have never begged you for anything, PLEASE bring him this way!!

It was a beautiful day on the Snake River, just outside of Jackson Hole Wyoming. We were driving along and saw a great place for a picnic. Actually we had seen it the day before and had come today with inner tubes for a fun time floating on the river. The water was moving, but not too fast. Donna and the kids went got out in the water with the tubes while I ran 200 yards downstream where I would wait out in the water to catch the kids as they floated down. I had told Donna to send one inner tube empty so I could make sure everything was OK.

Less than 15 seconds after stepping into the water… everything was NOT OK.

I waded into what was benign water for the first 15 feet. Then the ground dropped off and I found myself waist-deep in water that was moving so dangerously fast that I could hardly keep my footing. I looked up and saw the empty inner tube coming. It was then that I realized the river had a fork. I was on the right side of the fork. The left side was separated by a lot of debris that had washed down in recent storms. I saw it before but it was about 75 feet from the shore. I did not expect us to go out there. The inner tube came around the bend and swung wide. It was coming down my side but far to my right… in deeper water. I tried to take one step to my right to get the tube but the water was too strong. I could only watch as the tube floated by just one foot from my fingertips. I stood up to call to Donna and say, “Don’t send the kids.” I was too late. Ethan was already rounding the bend. Much to my horror, this tube, with the added weight of Ethan, swung even wider and I was certain Ethan would go down the other side of the fork. I looked behind me to see where he would go. The two branches of the river came together about 200 yards behind me. I knew that if Ethan went to the other side, my only option was to let the water take me downstream where I could HOPEFULLY get my hands on Ethan. I did not know where we might end up… But I knew that we were going there together. I prayed, I think out loud, like I have never prayed before or since. I was more afraid than ever before. My first prayer was answered… Ethan and the tube came to the right. But things were still not good. They were farther out than the empty tube had been. I had absolutely no choice but to get out there, deeper, before Ethan got there. I took one step and the water swept me away. I was drawn straight towards the debris. I was totally at the mercy of the now torrential waters and it took me toward the debris. My mind flashed a picture of me being swept under the debris, caught by my shirt and drowned. Sure enough, the water swept me right into the debris. The debris grabbed my shirt. I slid my arms over my head and came out of the shirt. A few feet down stream, I bobbed up… looking for Ethan. I spotted him, coming my way. I was trying to slow down and let him catch up so we could go down the river together when my feet found a hold. I stood there, feet wide, slowly being washed backwards. Just as I got wedged into a place, Ethan came to me. He was coming fast now, and I was sure he would knock me down. I feared that if he did, he might slip out of my hands. I decided the only choice was to jump on the tube with him and we would float until the tube popped or we could get out. But at the last minute I just grabbed him and picked him up.

I now had Ethan in my arms. I knew that no matter what happened now I would not let go. I looked at the shore just 15 feet away and wanted to go there but I was afraid to move either foot, not sure if we would be washed away. Now God answered the prayers of my friend Harvey, who was standing on the shore and watching in horror… I was able to get to shore.

That day I almost lost something very, very dear to me. It is with the memory of that fear that I read the three parables in Luke 15… parables about lost things. If you have ever had an experience where you lost something and were afraid or crushed… try to use that emotion as you picture these situations of loss.

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