There’s a question I often avoid. Maybe too often. Sometimes just asking it makes me uncomfortable because it exposes something I don’t like about myself. And so I sweep it under the rug of my consciousness. Lately that’s not been so easy. Every month for the last fourteen months I’ve read through the Gospels. This I’m doing so I can know Jesus better and follow him closer. These readings have forced me to address the question I’d like to avoid. Namely: Is there a reason to always be searching for someone who has lost his way?
Before you answer, remember Jesus not only said such people are lost, he exemplified how we should feel and act toward them. In fact, he said his whole purpose was to seek and save such people (Luke 19:10).
I’ve got to confess I don’t wake up every day with a sense of urgency about this matter. I suspect that’s because I don’t view such people as, to use the Lord’s word, “lost.” Otherwise I surely would search for them. Wouldn’t I? I know if my dog runs off I don’t wait around to search for her. It’s the same way with other things.
Suppose you’re dressed and ready to drive to a meeting. But you can’t find your car keys. Do you casually say, “No hurry.” It never happens that way with me. I’ve noticed when someone gets lost in the Oregon mountains, the searchers don’t sit around playing checkers. Since they’ve only got a few days to pull off the rescue the uniformed leader never comes on TV and says, “Not to worry. We won’t even start searching for few days. We’ve got lots of time.” When something is lost there is usually a limited amount of time to find it. Last week after the tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, first responders, neighbors, and friends immediately began searching for survivors. Time was of the essence because fragile lives hung in the balance. Parents whose kids got lost in the confusion frantically searched for them. Could you imagine such a parent not searching for their lost child?
As I write these words God is working in the lives of your friends, teeing some of them up for an encounter with himself. When they’re ready, he will give you a “God moment” that’s ripe for you to pluck. It could be when a friend has suffered a loss, or after a victory, or on the golf course, or while bowling, or while watching a sporting event, or fishing–it could be anywhere at any time. When that moment arrives, you’ve got to be ready to gently and wisely offer the hope of Christ. This doesn’t necessarily mean you talk with them about Christ’s death and resurrection and the role of faith in finding God. It could mean that. It could involve sharing your story of faith. But it certainly means showing them the love of Jesus through acts of compassion and service.
When that strategic moment arrives and you have a chance to let God connect with someone through you, you’ve got to go for it. You must not wait. Such readiness only occurs as we abide in Christ throughout the day and maintain a searcher’s attitude. As we do so, we must ask God to always keep us alert, ready to speak a word of life into a listening ear and open mind . . . ready to show an act of compassion in the name of Jesus.