One of my favorite things to share with people is that, growing up, I got in more trouble at church than I did anywhere else. It wasn’t because I was doing things that were necessarily bad – as my friends can attest I’m pretty compliant and tend to follow the rules. It was because I had no problem questioning what my youth pastors said. Looking back, I’m sure I was their worse nightmare. Most of the them were probably younger than I am now, and I was this junior high kid who wanted to debate their biblical interpretation (or lack thereof.) Not a one of them saw this as an opportunity; they all just wanted me to get with the program, their program. Somehow I don’t think my unwillingness to do so won me any friends (and despite my self-righteousness, I’m thinking I didn’t win too many heavenly jewels either.) Hence, the rather frequent lectures and reprimands.
The follies of our youth can sometimes follow us into adulthood, and I found myself in a similar situation recently. In an after-Bible study discussion, we were talking about the parables of the “lost” – the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son. Our pastor made the point that the story wasn’t about the lost ones finding their protector, it was about the protector finding the lost. Hence, the refrain “I found God” isn’t accurate; more aptly “God found me.” Although the debate was minimal (I don’t like to think I was ever lost to God), I think his point is probably the right one (and even if I didn’t, he has two master’s degrees to back it up.) Our Father is actively seeking our restoration. He’s removing barriers, overturning lampstands, and celebrating our admittance into His kingdom. He’s orchestrating ways for us to experience His grace. His greatest act of pursuit was sending His Son to bring the lost ones home. As with the coin, sheep, and prodigal son, there is nothing that we did to precipitate this. The action rests with Another.
The good news is that in each of the parables, that which was lost was being restored to its proper position. In the same way, our heavenly Father desires us to be restored into right relationship with Him. And even today, all the lost still has to do is to accept the restoration.