A dear friend of my son’s has been missing for two weeks. He was last seen in downtown Chicago. Bobby Villarreal is a father and runs his own business. He is probably one of thousands for whom family and friends are searching today in the US, perhaps tens of thousands that are lost or whose whereabouts are unknown throughout the world.
I don’t know the depth of Bobby’s faith or that of his family and friends. I don’t know if he was involved in something he should not have been, or even if he believed in Jesus. But I know deep in my heart the Lord does not like for people to be lost, physically or spiritually. He is the Shepherd that seeks the one little lamb that has strayed away from the herd, then carries it home on his shoulders to tend to it. He is like the widow who turns her house upside down looking for that lost coin (or in our day probably the car keys).
A twelve year old autistic girl was found this week safe and alive in the swamps of Florida by an ordinary man who in prayer felt direction from God. He was led by grace to her general location, an area deep in the swamp no one else had searched, and began to call out her name. Finally he heard her voice ask, “What?” I do not know if that will be true for Bobby. But I do trust in God’s grace and mercy. I know He answers prayers, even those prayed by those who just are not sure they believe He will answer them. I know because He has shown through Scripture He does not want anyone to be lost.
Our Lord is the one who promises if we seek, we will find. Why? Because He has sought us out already. We just have to fall into His arms. Easier said than done. In our confusion we can wander far away from where we started, like the girl in the swamp. The more we try on our own to find the way back, we wander deeper and deeper into the unknown. Like Hansel and Gretel, our bread crumbs disappear. But God knows where we are and how to lead us out of the maze of darkness, doubt, fear and frustration back into His light unto the path and into the warmth of His protection. Like an ambulance blanket wrapped around us, His love can envelop us no matter where we think we are.
Pray for Bobby, his family and all who are lost. And if you feel a bit lost today, know that God loves you and is actively seeking you to come to Him. Like that girl in the swamp, listen as He calls your name. Then fall into His arms and let Him lead you back into the light. He knows the best way back.As the famous hymn says, ” Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ Luke:15:4-6