I went to a Junior High School conference with our youth group last weekend. The speaker shared on a few of Jesus’ parables. Of course I have heard them seemingly a million times before. But this time it was different, I heard them told in a way I had never heard before. He shared the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son – or as it is more well known, the prodigal son. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with these stories I’ll give you a quick overview.
THE LOST COIN
In the story of the lost coin, a woman has 10 coins, and she loses one. When she realizes it is lost she lights a lamp and sweeps the house until she finds it. When she finally comes across the coin, she celebrates!
THE LOST SHEEP
In the story of the lost sheep, a shepherd is keeping watch over 100 sheep. When he realizes one has strayed he leaves the 99 alone to go after the one. Again, when he finds the lost one he celebrates.
THE PRODIGAL SON
Then, finally, in the story of the prodigal son a young man goes to his father and asks for his inheritance early. The father concedes and gives his son the inheritance. The son takes off and lives a wild life, and blows the entire inheritance. The father has no idea where the son is or if he is even okay, to the father, the son is lost. Once the young man finds himself with no where to live and no food, he comes to his senses and he decides to ask his father to take him back as a servant. But when the son arrives at the father’s home, the father throws his arms around him and celebrates his return with a party.
3 things of great value lost, 3 things celebrated when they are found. Got it?
SOME KIND OF LOST
Okay, so here’s the part that I had never heard before…the coin was lost, but didn’t know it was lost or that it needed to be found, it was completely ignorant. The sheep was lost because it had wandered off – perhaps aimlessly – just accidentally strayed away. The son was lost because he chose to be. He was just downright defiant and foolish. The speaker at the conference asked us to consider which of these we were, the coin, the sheep or the son.
ALL KINDS OF LOST
I spent a little time pondering this, and I realized that I have been all 3 at different times in my life. Before I had become a Christian I was the coin. I didn’t know I was lost and didn’t know I needed to be found. I was just going through life, with no idea that there was an amazing, loving God out there searching for me. Then, one day someone told me I was lost, and suddenly I went from being lost to being found!
Then, years went by and I just lived my life for me. I just did what everyone else did, and lived how everyone else lived. I didn’t go to church, didn’t read my Bible, didn’t pray. I just lived. I was the sheep. I had wandered away and didn’t really realize it. Then one day, I looked up and realized how far away I was, and I was like, “Oh my gosh! I AM lost! I didn’t realize it!” Then, suddenly, I was found again! And I celebrated!
Many years of serving God went by, I attended church faithfully, prayed faithfully, and did all of the things I was supposed to “do”. But my life wasn’t exactly what I had dreamed, and I became disenchanted with everything…I also became downright defiant and foolish. And I chose to be lost, I chose to walk away, even though it may have only been for a short time (we don’t really know how long the prodigal son was “lost” for either). Then one day I came to my senses and went back to my Father again, and He received me with open arms, again.
WHAT KIND OF LOST?
So, what kind of lost are you? Are you lost like the coin, and don’t think you are lost at all? Or are you the sheep who looks up one day and realizes you have strayed far off course? Perhaps you are the prodigal son who walked away after the pain of life was more than you could bear. Or, maybe you aren’t lost at all, maybe you are right where you need to be when it comes to your relationship with God. In which case, today is a good day to remember what kind of lost you once were, and what kind of mercy rescued you.