“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
Luke 15:4 ESV
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?
Luke 15:8 ESV
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20 ESV
Have you ever lost something? I have. Lots of times. And oh the joy that always comes when I find what I have been looking for! Jesus talks about this joy in the above parables. He explains the joy that comes when the lost item is found. Yet today the Holy Spirit brought me to the other side of these “lost and found” parables: the perspective of the one searching.
In the first parable, the shepherd does not give up until he finds that one sheep. He searches high and low until he finds it, and then he brings it home. In the second parable, the woman turns the light on, cleans, and searches diligently for that lost coin. Like the shepherd, she does not give up until she finds it. With the Prodigal Son, that father was always keeping an eye out for his little boy. He was always watching for any signs that his son was coming home. We can tell because on that day that his son did start coming home, the father noticed him while he was “still a long way off.” The dad did not then wait until his son was close. Rather, at the first sign that his son was coming home, the father ran out to meet him.
So here are two things God showed me through these passages this morning. First of all, God never gives up on us. He never stops seeking His children. God does not want anyone to suffer eternity in Hell. He is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV). And since God longs for us to know Him intimately, He will continually provide opportunities for us to draw near to Him. He will send that friend, that stranger, that Pastor, pretty much anything He can think of (and He thinks up a lot!), to reach out and draw us into His presence. Like the shepherd, God searches actively for us. Like the woman with the lost coin, God never gives up. And like the father, He will immediately notice, even if we are still far off, when we take that first step.
Which brings me to the second point. God does not make us walk all the way to Him. As soon as we take that first step toward Him, He comes running. I must admit I got teary-eyed this morning as I pictured the following scene from The Prodigal Son: But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Oh, my heart! I could just imagine what that father was thinking as he looked out the window as he did so many times every day, hoping and waiting and praying that his son would come home. I could just picture how he caught his breath, rubbed his eyes, and thought to himself, “Is that really my son?!” And then when reality sunk in that it truly was his little boy coming home, the joy that must have overwhelmed him as he ran full force to greet his little boy!
And now you know this: that’s how God looks at you! God is not going to sit there looking out the window, see you coming, and then wait for you to get all the way back on your own. No, He’s going to run out to greet, to embrace, and to kiss you as He expresses such joy that you’re coming home. For the moment you draw near to God, He immediately draws near to you (James 4:8). God will never deny the broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
Therefore today, let me encourage you to take that first step back home. Take that first step knowing that God has never stopped seeking you. God has never given up on you. And He never will. At the first sign of you coming home–as soon as you turn around to focus on the right path, He will meet you right where you are. He will run up to you, put His arm around you, and rejoice exceedingly as He continues with you to walk you the rest of the way home.
God loves you, my friend. He not only longs for you to come home, but He has also been and will continue to search for you diligently until you make your way home. So seek your Savior today. Don’t wait for “the right time,” for the right time is now. And know this: when you seek, you will find. You will find a Shepherd, a Father, and a Friend with arms open wide declaring with a smile on His face and joy in His heart, “Welcome home!”