by Jaynan Clark

May, 2011

Tgraphic about us imagewo weeks ago all “hell” broke loose when my 17 year old daughter lost her cell phone. Normally a very balanced and together young lady, this search and rescue went on long enough that even a very controlled and mature “loser” of an item tends to move either toward panic or anger or a very interesting combination thereof… thus the “all hell breaking loose” reference. Some are prone to this behavior on a day to day basis but when one who is not of this stripe begins to lose it, all others in close contact and ear shot are surely immediately involved.

As a young driver on pretty crazy mountain roads for long country miles, her cell is her way of knowing that help is there if needed. As one who coordinates the home to school to activity schedule, that cell helps keep everyone on track, in touch and moving in the right direction while burning the minimum amount of gas on our limited budget. That little device, used by so many as just a social networking tool to chat and send pics and talk to everyone you’re not with in order to ignore the people you are with, doesn’t really function that way in our home. So the search was not for entertainment value but because there was a real, immediate need to find it. To just forget it or leave the house without it was not considered a safe or good option.

To make matters worse, at the time of its disappearance its batteries were low and so repeatedly calling it to try and hear it was only making the situation more desperate. “Soon it is going to be dead and then we will never find it!” Search and rescue attempts had to be stepped up in order to stay ahead of the depleting source of energy---soon it would not be able to make a sound or show any light in order to help its rescuers locate it. It would be lost.

It was during this all out, no stone left unturned, somewhat frantic but more accurately intentional and timely search that I began to reflect on the difference between “member” Christians and disciples following the Crucified One. There seems to be a normalized acceptance of the lost ones prevalent across the institutional church. A very few seem to be taken out of there somewhat balanced, day to day rational behavior to a spiritual frantic panic of sorts over the lost and forsaken ones. Content to pay membership dues by way of the offering plate and check in to their season pass seats in the appointed pews across the so called “churches”’ they seem not only uninterested but okay with the fact that many if not most do not know who Jesus is and what He has done for them. The parables of the lost that He taught on the edge and with surprising frequency to His followers seem to be nice stories of old that have no application today. I protest! They appear to have more application today than any day that I have seen in my 53 years of life.

This world of sin and fallen-ness is groaning in travail as sheep of Jesus, own creation, children of God wander homeless and lost looking for purpose and meaning in their lives in all the wrong places and faces (yes, there is an old song like that!) They have been turned to try to find meaning and truth and love deep inside their flesh, a place where it cannot and does not exist as the Word tells us, and yet mainline—sideline institutional “churches” continue their detouring of the faithful and the faithless exactly there—to the self and the desires of the self and the flesh. An appropriate and faithful response on any lost or found cell with texting ability to that hireling activity is “OMG!” To not only ignore the need to search for the lost but add to their numbers with a false gospel of pleasure, prosperity and self-divinity is surely works worthy of a millstone.

If only we would approach our faith, our churches, our neighbors with the same view as my young daughter looks upon her cellphone whether lost or found… that it is a necessary part of life to stay safe on the roads of life and to stay connected with family and neighbors and it is a tool for keeping our daily life and bread organized rather than a part of our endless entertainment venues then perhaps we would not only miss it but would prioritize searching when it is missing. To be lost in the faith, out of relationship with Jesus, daily losing even the energy or ability to voice a need for help or let any light shine in order to be found is so much more alarming than a lost phone’s battery depleting. We should look around our homeland that is caught in a down-spiraling, fast flushing flow and literally be frantic and even panicked according to the immediate need and call to action. There is no time to sit on our padded pews and reorganize and theologize and temporize… we must “go” now. As disciples we have been bought and paid for this very purpose—to pass on the faith by telling His story.

Oh my God--our Father and our Savior—instill in us that same passion to search for and rescue your lost and straying children as we do in search for our own lost tools and stuff. Break our hearts with that which breaks your own giving us eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to serve and feet to follow your way. Make us “Go” in your name and gather your lost and straying sheep one at a time into your flock where you alone are the Good Shepherd, the Lord and giver of Life. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus the Christ, we pray, amen.