There is one requirement to being found: someone must be looking.
Yes it is true that one can be found unexpectedly or by surprise, though discovery by chance is most common when considering objects: one can find a lost set of keys or find their destination by happening to take the right turn. When it comes to people, the lost are sometimes found by chance but always the one constant is this: someone must be willing to go seeking.
Take the game of Hide ‘n Seek for instance. Our grandchildren absolutely love to play Hide ‘n Seek but at this age the objective is not nearly so much to stay hidden as it is to be found. Ella, age 6, makes little chirping noises to help direct the one who is ‘it’ and Jude, nearly 4, will call out, “I’m here! Come find me, over here!” Their beautiful innocence makes them want to be found and their precious naivety of, ‘I want to win and you to lose’ means they want ‘it’ to be successful in the search. Hide ‘n Seek has never been this much fun, but if no one is willing to be the seeker there is no game. It is always easier to keep doing what I am busy with than to go look for them, but getting in the game and the delight we share when they are found is worth whatever I gave up.
As I wrote in my book, In Love, Where I Belong, as a child I often got lost and let me tell you, it is frightening when it happens for real and not in a game. (As I’m sure many of you can attest). We once lost a child in another country for a short while and to this day the family turns quiet and pale when we discuss it, it was that frightening. How we thank the Lord there were locals willing to go looking until she was found, safe and sound. Lostness is a terrifying, vulnerable and dangerous state of being. To be lost is to be unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts. Depending on the person and the situation it is possible to gather one’s wits and find the way home. But to be truly lost, without a clue of how to rescue oneself is to be hopeless and afraid. To judge a lost person on their inability to find their own way is foolishness. Wisdom says those who know the way must go lend a hand to help them find home.
Jim and I just had the pleasure of once again driving across the western part of our vast nation as we went from Colorado to California for Ashley and Cole’s wedding. Wow, this is a huge nation with plenty of wide, open spaces filled with nothing but sagebrush! Hour after hour we drove on I-80, marveling not only at the wild beauty surrounding us but at the pioneers who traversed it first in covered wagons. It’s a long walk to California and many who started out never got that far: it is estimated there were six graves per mile along the way. The journal entry of one man tells us that the trail split off and they were choosing the trail south of the river, though they didn’t know if it was the right way or where they might end up. I don’t know how his story ended but I felt a bit lost and vulnerable just reading this, standing as we were at a historical marker in the middle of Nowhere, Nevada. If he and his party did get lost I sure hope someone went looking for and found them and helped them find their way. It is painful to think of so many perishing in their lostness.
Jesus doesn’t like any of us to be lost, which is why He gave up heaven to come to earth as a man, live among us and show us the way Home. Luke 19:10 says He came to seek and save the lost: having been a lost one, myself, I’m so glad He did. Story after story in the Bible remind us that it doesn’t really matter how, where or why we are lost – God so desperately wants us with Him He will go to great lengths to be sure we are found. Consider Rahab. A prostitute living in ancient Jericho, nothing in her story leads the reader to conclude that she was living a holy and virtuous life. In other words, though she was living a ‘life of sin’ in a wicked and depraved culture, God went to great lengths to be sure she was found. Why? Surely not because of any outward righteousness, which is a good reminder that grace is based on His character and not our own. Rahab had heard the stories of the God of Israel and she longed to know Him. Not all who are lost are without hope of being found and given a fresh start – far from it! Her ache to know Him, the position of her heart that cried out for that which was real and true, moved heaven close to her and a pair of Jewish spies came to her rescue. Rahab was lost but when God’s people obeyed and went looking in Jericho, they found this woman whose destiny and future in God were great. I’m glad the spies didn’t pull a Jonah and refuse to go to such a wicked city among wicked people. Rahab needed them to come and we needed Rahab to be found.
Jesus wasn’t winking and playing a word game when He told us to go into all the world and make disciples of nations. He was sharing with us His heart and His passion, calling us to follow in the trail He so beautifully walked first – to leave the comfortable and lovely and GO. So very many Rahab’s are waiting. In the game of Hide ‘n Seek and in life, we who once were lost and now are found now get to be the searchers. Whether lost or hiding behind walls of shame and fear, the goal is always to be found and then find others. Will you answer the call? Will you stop being afraid of the lost and realize that they can’t be found if no one is willing to go seeking? Get in the game and go! You’re It.