Eagle Devotional: Lost & Found
Tip-Off: Losing or misplacing one’s keys, cell phone, or wallet is bad enough, but losing one’s child is a much greater level of loss with greater consequences. A few years ago our family was in Portland, OR, walking around looking at shops. It was a Sunday, and we mostly had the boardwalk to ourselves along the waterfront. Being in a new place with our young children, we were on high alert. For anyone with children, you can relate to constantly “counting heads” as you move from one place to the next. As we made our way down the boardwalk, we suddenly realized that we were missing our oldest son who was three years old. Not exactly a high moment in our parenting. We looked back in the direction we had come. He was nowhere in sight. The boardwalk was mostly empty. Panic began to set in as my wife searched the shops and I scoured the waterfront. Nothing…
Halftime: In Luke 15, Jesus tells three stories about lost things: a sheep, a coin, and a son. The context has to do with God’s lost children returning to Him, and they can also be instructive in our parenting. The following is a brief paraphrase of each story:
Lost sheep: a man loses one of his hundred sheep, leaves the ninety-nine to find the one, carries it home on his shoulders, and then celebrates finding the lost sheep.
Lost coin: a woman has ten coins, loses one, then searches her entire house until she finds it, then she celebrates.
Lost son: a son demands an early inheritance from his father, wastes it all on wild living, ends up eating with the pigs, and then finally returns home with an unexpected greeting from his father of hugs, kisses, and a welcome-home party.
Jesus is attempting to help us understand how Father God relates to us, how His heart breaks over His lost sons and daughters, and the love, compassion, and grace He has for us as His children.
Fourth Quarter: How might this help us in our parenting?
The lost sheep could describe a son who has wandered away from his faith and family. He is lost. What is needed is for the parent to locate the lost son, share the truth of God’s Word with them, and lead them back home. Like the shepherd carried the sheep home, a closer relationship needs to be built with the son.
The coin seems to have been lost as a result of neglect. The woman just wasn’t attentive enough. The next thing she realized, it was gone. How long had it been lost? Who knows? She may have gotten so preoccupied with life that it slipped through the cracks. This can easily happen with our busy lives. We might be so focused on providing for our family, working long hours; investing in “good” things at the expense of one of our most important stewardships: our children. To “find” our children again requires a new sense of priorities and attentiveness. No “good” thing will be worth it years from now when we realize that we lost our most valuable treasure out of neglect.
The lost son has a good ending, but it’s probably the most painful process. When the son leaves home, it wasn’t due to a lack of love, training, or investment. He was hell-bent on doing his own thing. There was no amount of truth or convincing that would keep him from leaving. The father’s only option was to patiently wait and pray, day after day after day. One can imagine that numerous times each day he would hope to see a sign of his son coming toward home. When his son finally returned, there was a celebration. The son didn’t need to be told he was a screw-up. He was broken and contrite. He expected nothing from his father, but his father received him with open arms. There was a lot of healing that needed to happen from the wrong choices the son had made. The father’s love and help would be critical in the days ahead.
Two-Minute Warning: When we consider these stories, the instruction we receive is both preventative and helpful in a present crisis. Preventative because we can make changes now that can change the course of future events. At the same time, we may find ourselves in a crisis and we don’t know what to do or where to turn for answers. The parenting challenges we may face, and the solutions we seek, are likely a combination of all three stories.
At The Buzzer: Back to the story about our lost three-year-old. After what seemed like hours, but was only about 10 minutes, we found our son! A store clerk in the first shop we had entered was keeping him company while they waited for us to return. What a relief. All the worst scenarios had been running through our minds. We celebrated! Our son was lost, and now he was found! Nothing else was more important in that moment. Of course, we vowed to be more attentive and watchful in the future. We held him closer than before and showered him with kisses. But through that experience God gave us a picture of what was necessary to not only try and keep him safe, but how to steward his heart and life.
Overtime: Even the most Perfect Parent, Father God, experienced great pain as His first children rebelled against Him (Genesis 3). We reap the consequences of this rebellion. But He is always been faithful to invest time into us, share the truth of His Word with us, offer us close relationship, and receive us home again after we walk away. He is the perfect parent-example for us to follow. Consider reviewing Eagle Devo #8 Redeeming the Time for keys of how to invest in our sons in ways that will produce lasting rewards.