Summary: Life is lived between being found and being lost. What does it mean to be found?
Living Between Being Lost and Being Found
There’s an enormous hunger for God in this world. Often people feel the hunger, but they don’t know what they are really hungry for. "I’m hungry, but I don’t know for what," we say as we open the refrigerator door. What does the gospel have to offer these seekers after God? Life is lived between two addresses “being lost” and “being found.” The words “lost” and “found” make regular appearance throughout the scripture. They are also kept alive by us ministers who use them in our preaching; sometimes we use them in condescending ways and at other times in more appropriate ways. Our songs even use these words, most famously in Amazing Grace, “I once was lost but now I’m found.” Thus there is no doubt these words have a rich history in the Christian vocabulary. Let us consider these words this morning and how they form the boundaries to life.
In one sense, the church declares, lostness is endemic to humanity, since Adam and Eve lost their way in the garden. Since then, the story of grace is the story of God’s relentless pursuit of the lost and wayward children. Lostness has many faces and creates many detours in our life. We are all lost. The Bible is full of stories of people lost and then found.
The children of Israel were lost in Egypt until God found them. Moses himself had killed a man and gotten lost on the backside of the Midian desert before God tracked him down. The people of Israel do get free, but only for a moment and then they are lost in the wilderness for forty years, apparently Moses needed a compass more than a staff. The only way they get into the Promised Land is for another lost soul Rahab the Harlot, to do them a favor. God’s people, ironically, can even get lost in the Promised Land. Exile after exile Israel continues to spend more time lost than found. So what does it mean to be lost and better yet what does it mean to be found.
Lostness can be a deliberate choice but more than likely it is incidental to the human condition. We don’t mean to do it but we can’t help it. It all begins because we think we know the way. “Me lost, of course not.” No one likes to admit they are lost whether it is lost driving or lost in the mall parking lot. How many of you have ever exited the mall only to forget where your car was parked? Getting lost does not seem too difficult for us to do. Maybe getting lost is natural which would make being found supernatural.
What does it mean to be lost?
Of course getting lost physically is the least of our worries. We get lost in relationships, lost in our careers, lost in our life, lost in our faith, some of the ways we get lost have not even been invented yet. Consider the man we call Jairus. Matthew tells us he was a ruler in the Synagogue, a man of means, whose daughter had died. What kind of ruler comes to a Galilean carpenter for medical help? He needs a doctor but instead he goes to a backwoods rabbi without any credentials. The only man who would turn to Jesus is a lost one. Here you have a devoted Jewish Ruler calling on a carpenter to bring his daughter back to life, he must have been lost.
Back us up in corner, take away all our human options, give us a bad doctors report, throw our life off the tracks and we naturally get lost. Lostness makes us see our need for being found. Lostness brings us to our knees. In this world lostness is only a tragedy away and then who can we turn to, who can find us when we have lost our way?
Consider the woman at the well. She shows up somewhere around noon because she didn’t want to see the dirty looks the other women would give her. She felt like Shania Twain arriving at a bikers bar, she knew all eyes would be on her, and she was tired of it, tired of the rumors, tired of the empty life, tired of looking for love in all the wrong places. She was lost, directionless. Lostness is nothing more than experiencing our own limitation, getting involved in more than we can handle. This woman was certainly in over her head. Jesus speaks not comfort, but rebuke when he says, “You have had five husbands and the man you are living with now is not your own.” This woman is a picture of directionless. Remember that in these days only a man could give a divorce, so in other words this woman had displeased five men. Now if a woman and man can’t get along they get a divorce and each is at fault. But when you have been through five men, the likely hood is that there is something about this woman that is not conducive to relationships. She is the Elizabeth Taylor of the Bible; she went through men like paper towels. Whatever she was she was most definitely lost. She was looking for something and thus far all she had found was heartache.