Lost — a term that was common to describe a person without a personal and committed relationship to God. I don’t hear it too often today. It was also used to describe a person destined for an eternity without God.
What if we used it to describe how we are right now — lost? Maybe it would make more sense to us if we thought of it as our current and ongoing condition, rather than our condition after death. When Jesus used the term, it was typically describing something that was pursued and found by a caring and determined searcher — in the present. It represented God looking for us now.
It seems that from the very beginning, God has been looking for us. Remember how He went looking for Adam and Eve, who were hiding from him in shame and embarrassment in the garden?
There is much that we do not understand about life and circumstances. Even with a personal relationship with God and a familiarity with the Bible, there are still many unanswered questions. Someday it will become clear. In the meantime, we need to understand the meaning of being found — now.
A man hiking out of the Chugach Mountains of Alaska hoped to make it to camp before a deadly blizzard hit. He was too late. The blizzard struck with such a fury that he was unable to see even two feet in front of his face. The windblown snow and ice knocked him off his feet as he struggled to find his way. Although he knew that he was only a short distance from camp, he had lost his sense of direction and couldn’t determine which way to go. Finally, in the dark of night, he slumped down into a snow bank — cold, wet and totally exhausted. He could go on no further. He resigned himself to die.
As he lay there in the snow, he thought he heard something — a faint cry, like the whimpering of a puppy. He called out to it and tried to crawl toward the sound. Sure enough, it was a dog that was also lost in the storm. The puppy had somehow been separated from its mother and was freezing to death.
The man quickly began rubbing the dog’s fur, trying to keep the dog’s blood circulating so that the dog would survive. He warmed the dog with his breath, continuing through the night to try to keep the little puppy alive.
The next day, scouts from the village found both the man and the dog alive. They discovered that the man, by working to keep the little dog alive during the night, had kept himself alive as well.
Being lost is not about Hell. It is about missing out on being found now. It is about having joy, peace, and contentment now — in spite of our struggles and difficulties. It is about experiencing God’s love in an intimate and personal way now. It is about having the opportunity to love others in ways we are incapable of without Him — now.
Yes, there is a Hell, and it will be a terrible place of suffering. But, the fear of Hell as a motivator for choosing to follow God doesn’t seem to work well today. And, I wonder how genuinely motivating for real change it was in the past.
Being searched for by the God of the universe and letting ourselves be found and provided a life full of adventure, challenge and promise sounds pretty good to me.