Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

Lost And Found

Psalm 119:169-176

169 O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised. 170 Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised. 171 Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees. 172 Let my tongue sing about your word, for all your commands are right. 173 Give me a helping hand, for I have chosen to follow your commandments. 174 O Lord, I have longed for your rescue, and your instructions are my delight. 175 Let me live so I can praise you, and may your regulations help me. 176 I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.

            I did something a couple of weeks ago that I have never done before. It was a Monday evening and I didn’t have anything scheduled. There was no Monday Night Football game on TV, and no ACC basketball games on either, so I decided to watch the final season premier of the ABC series “Lost.”

            Do you watch that show?

            I never had before.

            I remember when it debuted a few years ago. I saw the previews…plane crashes on a tropical island. Survivors learn to deal with the challenges of life on an uncharted island. Creepy thing happen. It looked to me like “Gilligan’s Island” with a plane instead of a boat. So I never watched an episode.

            But on this night a couple of weeks back, I watched the season premier. If you are a faithful viewer of “Lost” you know it looks like a mixture of the novel “Lord of the Flies”; the movie “Castaway”; the reality show “Survivor”; and yes, I do think some of… “Gilligan’s Island.”

            I’ll be honest, I was fascinated by the show. There is this struggle within each of the characters between doing good and doing evil; between living in darkness, and living in light. The island seems to focus each of the characters on their own person struggle with good and evil—light and dark.

            In the show’s first season, this battle in each human heart was defined by John Locke, as he explained to Walt the rules of the game backgammon:

            “Two players, two sides; one is light, one is dark.”

            So as I watched my very first episode of “Lost” I started thinking about how the metaphor of being “lost” is exactly how the Bible portrays people living apart from God, and Gods plan for their lives. In a real sense, according to the message of the Bible, without God, all of us are lost. Our lives are a journey to deal with the challenges of good and evil, light and dark, and hopefully find rescue, and a way to get back home safely.

            Have you ever been lost?

            I don’t mean metaphorically…I mean literally…have you ever been lost, when you didn’t know where you were, and you didn’t know how to get to your destination?

            Usually there are two responses when we get lost. The first response is the logical, sensible thing to do. You stop, find someone who knows the way, ask them for directions, then turn around and head back the right way.

            The second response is to just keep going in the wrong direction, and maybe even increase your speed. That is known as the “man response.”

            I was driving one time from the Western North Carolina mountains to central Kentucky. I was taking a shortcut. The truth is, I had looked up this shortcut on “Google” maps and had written the directions down, so I felt confident I could get to my destination. But sometimes those “Google” maps are not correct…or maybe I just don’t always pay attention to road signs—either way, after a long time of driving out in the middle of nowhere, it began to dawn on me that I didn’t know where I was…and I didn’t know how to get to my destination. I, of course, did what many men before me have done…I sped up and kept going. Then I think God started to have fun with me. The sky suddenly grew dark, the wind began to blow, I heard thunder, saw lightning, and a torrential rain began to fall. It was like being in one of the plagues of Egypt, or maybe…Noah’s ark.

            I felt like God was giving me a warning… “Son, don’t you think you ought to pull over and ask for directions?”

            My reply was the same as many men before me… “No need to. I’m making really good time. Yeah, I know I have no idea where I’m going, but I’m getting there really fast.”

            This is how lost I was: at some point I topped a hill and met an Amish family in a horse drawn buggy going the other way!

            I thought to myself, “How far off course am I that I am running into Amish people—in horse drawn buggies?”

            We waved to each other as we passed by. I just know Pa Amish turn to Ma Amish as I passed them and said, “He’s lost. He doesn’t know where he is going.”

            Finally, after wasting all that time, I stopped to ask for directions…no I didn’t…you know better than that!

            Finally, after wasting all that time driving in the middle of nowhere I came up on a convenience store out in the country. I reluctantly pulled in to the parking lot…and my wife went in and asked for directions!

            Eventually we reached our central Kentucky destination…no thanks to me!

            I saw in the USA Today newspaper one time the top reasons why people get lost while driving:

47% are caused by bad directions,

45% are caused by unclear, or missing highway signs,

38% are caused by detours…[or what I like to call “short cuts”!]

21% are caused by confusing maps,

13% are caused by automobile distractions (radio, CD player, conversations, unruly children in the back seat).

            Isn’t that the way it is in all of life? We find ourselves lost when we follow bad directions, miss the signs, take wrong detours, get confused by the map, or allow ourselves to become distracted, and take our eyes off of our destination.

            Listen to how the Psalm writer describes

1) The Condition

“I have wandered away like a lost sheep”

(Psalm 119:176a)

            The writer looked at his life and felt like he was a wandering sheep. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be, and he didn’t know how to get there.

            Have you ever felt lost like that? Maybe you once had a dream for your life, but over time you got involved with other pressing things and you just wandered away from it. Now you’ve lost it. Perhaps you started out on a journey to find God, to follow Jesus, to be a committed Christian, but somewhere along the way you wandered off the path. You might have once taken good stock of your life and determined that changes needed to be made, and so you made them. You started off in a new direction, but after a while the determination waned and you began to wander off.

            Now you are lost.

            You might even be in a place today where you say, “I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know where I am supposed to be in my life.”

            The Psalm writer calls that “lost.”

            There is something we need to admit when we are lost, and it is a hard truth to accept: we can’t find our way back by ourselves.

            Do you remember the “Professor” on “Gilligan’s Island”? He always intrigued me. He could make anything on that island, out of next to nothing. Do you know what I mean? He could make a generator out of palm branches and vaccines out of algae, but he never got around to fixing that hole in the boat so he could go home!

            Why is that?

            Maybe it is because the hole in us is so large, that we can’t fix it ourselves.

            Maybe we are lost, and we just cannot find our way back by ourselves.

            The Psalm writer has an answer for us. There is a correction for our condition:

2) The Correction

“come and find me”

(Psalm 119:176b)

            Realizing that he is lost like a wandering sheep, the writer cries out to God to “come and find me” (Psalm 119:176b). He knows he is in need of rescue.

            Two times in this passage, the writer calls out to God for rescue:

            In verse 170 he says:

Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised. (Psalm 119:170)

            In verse 174 he says:

O Lord, I have longed for your rescue… (Psalm 119:174)

            God is waiting for us to realize our condition–that we have wandered away from Him and gotten ourselves lost. And when we finally see we are lost, God then waits for us to call out to Him and say “come and find me—rescue me.”

            When we realize we are lost in life, we discover we can’t find our way home on our own. In order to return we need a Rescuer. God is the One who finds lost sheep like us, and bring us back to our destiny. If we could find our way by ourselves, we wouldn’t really be lost!

            If we are going to get off the island, we’re going to need a Rescuer. Someone is going to have to come and save us.

            I know the name of that Rescuer. His name is Jesus. When we call on His name,

He comes to us,

to find us,

to rescue us,

to save us.

            The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13, from Joel 2:32).

            Search and rescue personnel risk their lives in tumultuous seas, deep forests, remote mountains, and desert wastelands. Wherever they’re needed they go. When called, they respond, because lives are in danger.

A Search and Rescue Team in Colorado puts it this way: “Millions of people visit the mountains of Larimer County, Colorado, each year. A few will become lost, stranded, or injured…some will die. Our objective is to find and rescue these lost or injured people before it is too late…. We are dedicated to saving lives.”

            In 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard made 54,609 rescue trips by boat or aircraft, saving 3,661 lives.

            The Search and Rescue Team motto: “This we do so others may live.”

            Jesus defined His mission in life as one of search and rescue. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10).

            He took that mission all the way to the cross, dying so that lost sheep might live.

            When the Bible says, those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, it means to say to Jesus Christ, “I’m lost. I am not who I need to be. I am not where I need to be in my life. I am not reaching my destiny. And I don’t know how to get there. The only way that I will get on the right path is for You Jesus, to come find me, and rescue me. I will trust my life in Your hands, Lord Jesus. I will follow You, because only You know the way home.”

            Those are honest words and they take a lot of courage to say.

            It is not easy to admit you are lost and to ask someone else for directions. I know that for a fact.

            But I want to ask you today…are you lost?

            Is your life going in the right direction?

            Are you living the life that you were created for?

            Are you close to God…or do you feel far from God?

            Are you who you are supposed to be?

            Are you where you are supposed to be?

            If you will call out to Jesus Christ today, He will come and find you, and most importantly, He will come and rescue you.

            He promised He would.

            It is the mission Jesus was sent here for.

            When I read these words from Psalm 119 I think of the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.”

            There are a couple of lines in that song that keep repeating over and over in my mind:

            “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood…Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

            I thought those words would make a great prayer for a lost person to call on the name of Jesus Christ for rescue.

            Can you make these words your prayer today?

            “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

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