Penny keeps asking me to tell her stories. “Tell story Mama little girl,” she says. So I’ve been remembering moments in my childhood and passing them along. Last night, I remembered that on more than one occasion, I “ran away” from home. I never went far. Once I made it to the empty lot two doors down. Once I camped out on the back porch. Once I hid underneath the house. But always, each time, I desperately wanted to be found. I wanted my parents to miss me. I wanted them to search for me.
So when I read Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep this morning (Luke 15), I was struck by the parallels. In Jesus’ story, one of one hundred sheep wanders away from the fold. The shepherd goes out to find the one, and he returns rejoicing.
My analogy breaks down a little here. I never ran so far that I was lost and couldn’t find my way home. On a spiritual level, though, I have run away from God and found myself lost, time and again. That might be the hardest part of any spiritual journey–to recognize that I am lost, and it is my fault. And there is nothing I can do about it.
But then, the good news, that God actively seeks after the lost, actively desires to call and bring us back. A friend once told me that as a Boy Scout, he was taught what to do if he ever got lost in the woods. “The main thing,” he said, “is to put yourself in a position to be found.” You don’t try to navigate by yourself. You don’t keep walking in the wrong direction. You get to high ground or send out a signal flare, and then you wait.
It’s humbling to think that I run away from God and then get lost. It’s humbling to admit my need. And yet, I think back to that little girl who longed for her parents to send out a search party. God loves me enough to seek after me. All I can do in response is put myself in a position to be found.