Summary: Never once have we ever walked alone. never once did He leave us all alone. He is faithful.

“Connected: Never Once”

Ez. 34:11-6; Lk. 15:1-32

The past few weeks we’ve been considering what it means to be connected to God. Admittedly, spiritual disciplines are hard – they take time, effort, and energy. There are times when we simply fail to make a good connection. But the good news we celebrate this morning is that we remain connected to God because God is connected to us through Jesus. Never once have we ever walked alone; never once did He leave us all alone. He is faithful.

This ongoing connectedness is what Luke 15 is all about. “1 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."” The religious leaders were having a hard time understanding Jesus. He was supposed to be one of them but He spent his time with all the outsiders. They were upset. How would you feel? It’s like a young girl who’s all excited about her boyfriend coming to her house to spend some time with her – and he spends all the time with playing with her little brother. She would be upset! Jesus knew what they leaders were feeling. So Jesus told them some parables, some stories about connectedness.

Story #1 was about A SHEPHERD AND HIS SHEEP. A shepherd had 100 sheep and one was missing. Not content with having 99%, the shepherd left the 99 in open territory, somewhat unprotected, so he could go search for the one lost sheep, find it, and bring it back into the flock. The lost sheep represents those who, at one time or another, have been WANDERERS. I recall the time we were camping as a family and one of our sons, who was very young, had walked to the end of our road in the campground. Somehow he wandered away from whoever was with him and kept walking. Soon he was on the next road over, running and screaming down the road because he was lost – he was in a panic because he couldn’t find us – even though we could still see him! He was clearly lost. He had not set out to be lost, it was not his purpose to be lost, but he was lost. He was so busy enjoying himself that he had simply wandered onto the wrong road. And he had no clue how to get back on the right road. He was like these wanderers.

We’ve all been wanderers at some point - becoming so busy living and enjoying life that we simply wander away from the truth, nibbling here and there, then end up lost, on the wrong road. Then the time comes when we recognize we’re lost, but have no clue how to find our way back. That’s where Jesus comes on the scene. He is the Shepherd who, having never lost sight of the wanderers comes to pick them up and carry them home, just as we went to our son, picked him up, and carried him back to our trailer. GOD WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, GO WHEREVER IS NECESSARY, TO BRING THE WANDERER HOME. Never once are the wanderers left alone or abandoned. Jesus is the Shepherd prophesied by Ezekiel, who will “bring back the strays…bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.”

To expand and strengthen His point, Jesus told Story #2. It was about A WOMAN AND HER COIN. A woman had ten coins, and realizes she’s lost one – about a days’ wage. So she sweeps and searches until she finds it. The coin represents those who, at one time or another, have been VANISHERS. Has your luggage ever disappeared at an airline? Has the television remote ever been lost when you desperately need it (because the game is ready to begin?) Ever need to search frantically for your car keys because they’re nowhere to be found? Has a sock ever gotten lost in the wash? The luggage, the remote, the keys, the sock had nothing to do with getting lost, and didn’t know they were lost. They just were.

The reality is we’ve been like that – we’ve had times when, through no real fault of our own, we feel totally lost – and wonder if we’re missed. We feel we’ve just slipped off everyone’s radar screen and no one misses us or cares. That’s where Jesus comes on the scene. Since we are of value to Him, God will spend every ounce of energy and every moment of time find us, to come to us where we are. Jesus is the owner who sweeps and searches until He has us once again firmly in His grasp. Never once are the vanishers left to find their own way back. Never once are we abandoned, for, as Jesus said, nothing can snatch us out of His hand (Jn. 10:28).

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