Summary: Taking the theme of Jesus' 3 stories about the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son, this sermon tells 3 stories of people who are lost in different ways, and how they are found.
LOST AND FOUND
When I first looked at preaching on being lost and found, I realised that the introduction could easily have stretched for the entire preach! So to shorten all the anecdotes I could tell about being lost, I have a short YouTube video to get you relaxed (and wake you up, if that’s needed!)
A welsh comedian in Australia, talking about losing his luggage…
How many people here have lost luggage at an airport?
Who has lost keys? Mobile phones? Wallets? Cats? Children???
ILLUSTRATION: yesterday I was in a large car park and I had to stop the car because there was a lady in the middle of the road looking lost. I wound down my window because she looked like she needed help. She looked at me rather bewildered and said, “I’ve lost my car!”
Apparently we spend a year of our lives looking for things!
WHAT ABOUT LOSING YOUR WAY?
How many of you have lost your way?
What does it feel like?
Scary, frustrating, ….
In the worst cases it can leave us feeling paralysed.
Jesus told three stories in the Bible about being lost. He told the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
He told these stories after he had been accused by the religious leaders of welcoming sinners. Welcoming people from all walks of life, no matter what they had done wrong, no matter who they were.
I want to tell 3 stories today.
They are all stories of people, but they are lost and found in different ways.
A MAN LOST IN THE FOREST
ILLUSTRATION: Suppose a man is lost deep in the forest. He has become so disorientated that he can’t find his way out. He has lost his compass and forgotten his map, and so he has no way of re-orientating himself finding the way to safety. His has lost all sense of direction and meaning, and he is wandering aimlessly without hope. Eventually he sits down and gives up all hope of being found. The shock and fear have paralysed him and he has no energy left to search for a way out. He spends the night under a tree, hungry and afraid, huddled up against the cold. In the morning, he has wakes up and decides to make one last search for safety. He starts to remember things he learnt when he was a child. Old stories of the forest that he was told when a child, markers showing him the right way, and memories of old paths that his father had shown him when he was little. The old paths are overgrown but they are still there. In fact he is much, much closer to safety then he imagined. He’s just a stone’s throw away, but he had become so disorientated that he could not find his way out. Eventually he breaks through and hears the voice of his father who is heading up the search party. His friends and family are overjoyed to see him again safe, and they throw a party to welcome him home.
This is how God feels when someone who is lost searches for God and finds him.
The Bible tells us that Jesus said he was close by, just waiting for people to come to him, to find him. It even talks of Jesus knocking on the door, just waiting for us to let him in. It is possible to become so paralysed by fear and lose all hope that we no longer hear our rescuer. There are stories in the lore of search and rescue parties that talk of lost people walking past their rescuers in a trance, and having to be chased down and tackled to the ground. If you’re feeling lost, and life is without hope, then let go of the fear that’s been holding on to you. Jesus, God is close by.
So if you’re out there, feeling what’s the point of life, there’s no meaning, if you’re searching for answers, then maybe your search is nearly over. You’re much closer than you realise.
One of the great passages in the Bible says simply, SEARCH AND YOU WILL FIND.
If you’re genuinely searching for God, you will find him. That I can promise you.
But how do you find God? How do you find Jesus? If you’re not from a church background, and you’re not sure if you believe in God, then it must sound very strange for me to stand up here saying SEARCH AND YOU WILL FIND.
After all, God is in heaven isn’t he? How am I supposed to go off and find him there?
That is the wonderful thing about the story of Jesus. If wasn’t just that he died and came back to life, but he said that he had to go back up to heaven so that the Holy Spirit could be sent down to earth so that everyone of us could know God near and close, and in our hearts.