We were standing along the corner of 8th and 49th street in New York City, waiting for our bus to arrive. It was cold and dark and yet people were busy going here and there in the city that never sleeps. I saw her standing there, about 5 years old, bundled up in her blue jacket. Her white fur-lined hood tied tightly at her chin. I had no idea she was lost. She stood near our group as if she belonged there, seemingly captivated by the large buildings, bright lights and fast moving people and honking horns. She wasn’t crying in fear. She told no one she was lost…maybe she didn’t even realize that she was. She was just a little girl that could have been any one’s little girl. But then, out of the busy crowd came a man, frantically running, calling her name. When he saw his little girl, you could hear his voice choke as he grabbed her and held her tight. It wasn’t until then that the little girl began to cry. It wasn’t until she realized how scared her daddy was that she became scared too. She gripped onto him so tightly and buried her little face into his neck as the two disappeared into the crowd. A few moments later, they again passed us, this time with the rest of their very large family who had obviously also been searching for the missing child. Their faces were beaming with the relief and joy of knowing that she was safe in her father’s arms, and that the search was over. They were laughing and recounting the stressful event as they headed down the street. Crisis averted. They would sleep easy.
It was on the long bus ride back to Ohio that night as I replayed that incident over and over in my mind. I couldn’t imagine the stress of losing a child anywhere, let alone in New York City. It brought to mind the parable Jesus told of the lost sheep. In Luke 15 He talked about leaving the 99 to look for the 1 lost sheep. The search is desperate and fierce because sheep don’t survive alone for long when they get lost. In fact, sheep are so dumb that they don’t even cry or run to the shepherd when He calls their name. They usually just lie down under a bush and hide. They quickly become targets for predators, but harder for the shepherd to find especially as darkness falls. So when He finds that lost one He rejoices and puts the lamb on His shoulders and calls all His friends and family together to tell them that the lost sheep has been found.
In this life it is so easy to end up like the little lost girl in New York City. The lights are bright. They distract and entice. Not only that, but we have an enemy who is calling us to walk away from our Father, time and time again. Telling us that the other way is better, more comfortable, more enjoyable, more satisfying, more fulfilling more familiar. Then we are found standing on a cold dark street alone not realizing how we even ended up there. But when our Father calls our name we realize…”Wow, I was really really lost” He tenderly gathers us up and celebrates us because he realizes what we have been rescued from and not only that but what we have been rescued FOR.
” For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
My prayer is that if you are currently lost, your eyes would be opened to the one who is desperately pursuing you and who gave everything to have a relationship with you. He doesn’t care how far away you’ve come , He just wants you, here and now. If you currently know and love Him, I pray that your heart would be moved to pray for and seek out those who are lost, just as the shepherd does. And that we would be as passionate about looking for those who have never known Him or who have wandered away from Him as He is. Nothing is as close to His heart as this, because this is the gospel.