|Caught up in the beauty of our surroundings, it's easy|
to get lost without knowing it.
If you’re the adventurous type – and even if you’re not – imagine exploring an unfamiliar forest. You’re enthralled by the natural panorama: Your eyes feast on brightly colored flowers and elegant trees, as well as animal life that scampers by. You hear birds singing, crickets chirping, other little noises as busy creatures go about their work. Fresh fragrances greet you, and you’re caught up in the pastoral beauty.
Then you realize you’re not sure where you are, or how to get out of the forest. Using instinct, you set off in the way that seems right. You hike along for a while, still enjoying the sights, sounds and smells, but a nagging thought starts to emerge: “Am I lost?” “Nah,” you decide. “I’m sure I just need to go that way. I’ll be back to the car in no time.”
An hour passes, then another, until you must admit, bruising your self-sufficient pride, “I’m lost!” At first you dispute the obvious, trying to believe that’s not the case. But after continuing to trudge along without any light at the end of this forested tunnel, you resign to reality. “Yup, I’m lost.” Next you wonder where to find help. What you need is someone who knows the way out. Unfortunately, that person seems nowhere nearby, your cellphone’s out of range, and you prepare for an unplanned overnight in the wilderness.
In the morning, after a very unrestful night, you hear leaves crunching and twigs snapping. Fearful at first it might be a dangerous animal, you’re relieved to discover it’s a group of hikers very familiar with the area. Before you know it, you’re exiting the forest back to safety and security.
The thing is, you were lost long before you realized it. You’d been happily strolling about, feasting your senses on flora and fauna, unaware you’d ventured far off the path that would take you home. Your need to be saved occurred hours before you recognized it.
This scenario serves as a metaphor for many people today. They’re happily enjoying this journey we call life, oblivious to the fact they’re venturing deeper into the “forest,” slowly becoming disoriented by their surroundings and ultimately, lost. Some are quick to call for help; others determinedly press on, unwilling to acknowledge their lost-ness. “I’ve got this” becomes a daily mantra, never admitting they don’t have a clue where they’re heading. But at least they’re making great time!
One day Jesus was invited into the home of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector. His encounter with Jesus led to humbling himself and repenting of his misdeeds, even to making restitution for any money he had gained through deceitful practices, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
When short in stature Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore-fig tree in Jericho to get a glimpse of Jesus as He passed by, he probably had no idea how lost he was. He’d created a lucrative livelihood, even though he was despised by most Jews for his dishonesty. This guy Jesus sounded interesting, though, so he wanted to at least get a look at Him. What Zacchaeus got was much, much more. To his surprise, the reformed tax man realized, “Once I was lost, but now I am found.”
The late Ted DeMoss, longtime president of CBMC, a ministry to the marketplace, saw many people give their hearts to Jesus Christ, but understood the challenge facing everyone willing to share their faith in Christ. He often said, “Sometimes you have to get people lost before they can get saved.”
From time to time I’ve had conversations – or tried having conversations – with people quite smug and comfortable in their non-belief. Even though Jesus declares emphatically, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), they proudly, even arrogantly hold to their conviction that their “way” is right. This saddens me, because having held that view myself at one time, I now know what they’re missing, both for this life and the one to come.
The Scriptures tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). I respect everyone’s right to hold to their beliefs – or lack of them. But as someone has said, “Once you see the truth, you can’t un-see the truth.”