We all know what it’s like to lose something or someone. We all know that feeling that borders on fear, if not actual fear. Reading Luke 15:1-10 reminds us to think about how we felt when we experienced loss, and the joy we felt when we were “reunited.”
One of my most memorable experiences with loss goes back to a time when I was a child, not more than five, at the crowded beach in Coney Island. I suppose I got a little bored sitting on the blanket alone with my mother and baby sister and wanted to get some water to bring back and make a sand castle. Mom resisted my going to the shore unattended and did not want to leave my sister sleeping and alone. I convinced her that I would not get lost and would be always aware of where she was. Mom relented and so I made my way with my metal pail and shovel in tow, carefully drawing a line in the sand with my foot. I played at the surfside for a bit, filled my pail and turned to make my way back to the blanket. Of course, the line I’d made was gone and I immediately panicked...not because I couldn’t see my mother but because I couldn’t find the line in the sand leading back to her. I remember being overcome with fear and began crying. A woman standing nearby came to my aid, and assured me that we would find my mother, who appeared, I’m sure, within seconds, although it must have seemed like hours to a lost child. I can still recall what I felt when my mother gathered me up in her arms and held me close, telling me I was not lost and that I was always in her sight. I suppose the reason I can still remember this event so vividly is because of the “palpable” effect it had and continues to have.
I can somehow relate this childhood experience with the two parables Jesus uses to describe lost and found and wonder what is more memorable, the fear of being lost or the joy of being found? In both instances Luke depicts the joy the shepherd and woman experience in finding what was lost. There was no recrimination just joy, as we are never out of His sight.
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.