Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Path of the Lost

Being lost is not fun. However, one rarely sets out to be lost. The journey to becoming lost usually does not start by someone saying: “I just want to go this way because I know if I do, I will end up totally lost.” On the contrary, what generally happens is that people start the journey thinking they are going to be free and happy. They think they know exactly where they are going, which often times is a place where they think they are going to be liberated from what they perceive as a yoke they’ve been carrying and don’t want to carry anymore.

I’ve been there. I’m not too old to have forgotten when I was young. So I still remember as a senior in High School all I wanted to do was to leave my parent’s house so I could escape their tight rule. I didn’t want their short leash any more. I didn’t want any leash at all! So as soon as I graduated, I left my small town for the big city and a life free from my Dad’s all-seeing-eye. My new found freedom took me around many different places, one of which was a college in Western Pennsylvania called Clarion. Sparing you the details, I’m just going to say that there; I got to experience the licentious living of a recently-released, unsupervised young adult who just wants to have fun.

Although I never truly lost my sense of right and wrong, I did bend and stretch the boundaries significantly. Often, I found myself at the verge of being lost, which for our purposes as Christians means separated from God. Like the lost son, who is separated from his father, the God Figure, the lost is not in the presence of The Heavenly Father. However, even though I never truly felt totally apart from God, there were times when I found myself in horrific places that gave me glances of what a life without Him would look like…and it looked grotesque and extremely scary. Sheer panic would clear my vision and turn me around before it was too late.

I’m not proud of my life as an undergraduate student; but it served its purpose…I can relate to those who seek a life of liberation from social constraints. The journey starts off as a plan to free oneself from pain and hurts began long ago. The path usually starts in many cases, as a way out of oppression and abuse. And what happens is that if the freedom-seeker doesn’t have a sure sense of direction and a guiding light, wrong turns are made, and he/she becomes lost very quickly. Before long, panic overcomes the lost…but it’s too late and they don’t know how to go back or even if they can go back. Like the lost son, they get trapped and chained by what they thought would free them…and then…they remember…and they compare what they thought tied them down before to the shackles they wear now…and they know…they realize…

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. 
Luke 15: 17-20

The good news is that God in His mercy always grants His children a precious moment of clarity so we too can get up and go to Our Father. That moment is His Hand reaching out into the pit to wake us up and pull us out. I don’t believe that a child of God who wanders off the wrong path and finds himself/herself lost from his/her perspective does so intentionally hoping to get helplessly lost. I think we start off following a misguided dream of freedom which we don’t realize is false. The allure of the fun found in false freedom often makes us forget that the path that can truly make us free is the road that leads to Christ.

We will continue exploring the path of the lost in another post this week before we move on to the other aspects of what we are learning about Grace through the reading of Luke 15.

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