Day 19 - December 21, 2017

The Value of the Lost

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14

So yesterday, I lost my ‘primary’ key ring--the one with my house keys and the keys to the chapel on the fancy fob that was a love-gift years ago. Duplicates were available, but I worried where they might have ended up and what about the safety of my cool key ring?! 
As family, we called my wife Linda (now in heaven) the ‘great finder’. She would doggedly retrace steps and patiently look in odd places until whatever was lost was found. Even if the search was long, the ‘finding’ was always worth celebrating. Usually we would call my folks to report that the ‘great finder’ had struck again; none of us were surprised at the outcome of her search and all were relieved.
I had no ‘great finder’ present to help and so I prayed and racked my brain (or is it ‘wracked’ my brain; Linda was also my editor!) I was taking a break from pacing and retracing when I thought about the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14) and the shepherd who was so happy to find the ‘one in a hundred’ that was lost that he called his friends and family when it was found. We raised sheep when I was in high school. I never thought one was more special (or smarter, or cleaner) than the others. I sorta thought that biblical shepherd was making an unnecessarily big fuss; he had so many others in the flock, still he ended up “joyfully putting it on his shoulders”—yuck! I much better identified with the women in the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-32)—sweeping her house until she found the one lost silver coin from her cache of ten. That was a lot of money, after all.
On the scale of lost items, I was sure the value of my lost keys fell much closer to the worth of a silver coin and much further from that of a dumb, stinky sheep. There were other keys…coins, sheep right where they should be. Do these missing ones really matter that much? Was I wasting my day and making a fuss over something truly unimportant? No, my keys WERE important and special. I resolved not to give up until they were found… in that Advent space, I had one of those amazing, glimpse-moments of the wonder of God’s care. Heaven rejoices in the ‘finding’ of the precious lost and the missing one-of-a-kind. The Word became flesh at Christmas to ensure there was a ‘great finder’ in the tangible. I was spending much more thought and energy worrying about my lost keys than I was consciously worried about lost souls. I am so glad that God has His eyes on sparrows and His palm open for their return to Him. Heaven and earth are assuredly much richer and fuller for it!
Great-finder God, thank you for Your constant care towards the lost and forsaken. Open my eyes and fortify my efforts to help You bring these special ones home to You.
submitted by Dr. John Holzhuter, University Chaplain

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