‘I didn’t know I was lost!’

“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:6)

Some readers may remember the media report one August, of a young secretary who went missing for some days, through a con-trick perpetrated by a deceiving businessman.

Eventually she was found, in a somewhat confused state, at Basingstoke railway station. Evidently she had been completely unaware of the TV news – and of the public concern. In her own words, at the resulting press conference, she confessed, “I didn’t know I was lost until I was found!”

In this famous fifteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost prodigal son, was basically making a single point – the steadfast determination of the eternal Father to do everything possible to find and recover every stray individual – even if they were taken by surprise at His seeking love.

Years ago I was leading a hospital ward service one Sunday morning, with a little team around me. It was still politically ok to do so in those days!  All I could see of one patient was a newspaper, firmly held up – and a thin spiral of cigarette smoke that drifted up from behind the paper. Yes, back then it was still permitted to smoke in a hospital ward!

Two days later I went visiting in the same ward, bed to bed. And there was the patient – a woman in her early thirties.

“So you’re the one who was speaking on Sunday morning!” she exclaimed. “I never looked in your direction once; I was determined to hide behind my paper and my cigarette. But I was listening all the time. And every word you said was for me. I want now to follow what you were talking about. How do I get started?”

This is the wonder of God’s ways with us. Jesus Christ is the Shepherd; out on the hills looking, working, seeking for that one sheep that is missing from the safety of God’s fold. And when, by the message of His sacrificial love, that single ‘lost’ one is reclaimed, the angels are aglow with joy.  Jesus said so.

What happened to the other patients that Sunday morning? Who can tell? But heaven itself was lit up that day over just one.

Preb Richard Bewes

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