Why we should celebrate when the lost get found

Yesterday, I posted about my stupid cat Gremlin and her ridiculous idea to hide her two kittens (affectionately known as The Ponds” in reference to the companions from Doctor Who seasons 5, 6, and 7) in the gigantic, garbage-filled dumpster in my driveway. My dad and I despaired of ever getting them out because they were way way back in the back, buried under trash and broken furniture, and all sorts of old things.

Gremlin hid them there because she thought it would be safe, but what she didn’t know is that the dumpster is leaving for the landfill this morning. And if Dad and I couldn’t rescue the kittens, they’d be shipped off alone to the garbage dump.

So what did Dad do? He jumped into the dumpster, trash and all, and sifted and sorted and climbed around trying to get the kittens out. He tried a couple of times while I was at work, but he didn’t have any luck. We weren’t sure what to do.

I wanted to try one more time when I got home. So I got home, changed out of my work clothes, and Dad and I climbed back into the dumpster. And just being goofy for the sake of it, I called out: “Hello, Ponds!” (in true Doctor Who fashion). And what do you think happened?

You guessed it. They popped right out. Pond (just Pond) ran right up to me, and Rory got stuck (so much like his namesake) and I had to fish him out. But we got them both free, and they’re perfectly fine.

The Ponds, an earlier photo because their mother has hidden them again (just not in the dumpster)

The Ponds, an earlier photo because their mother has hidden them again (just not in the dumpster)

Today’s verses are Luke 15:4-7.
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

I actually told God on the way home from work that if He helped us get the kittens out, I’d post this passage. This is a story that Jesus tells, and it’s actually the first of a trilogy. The first is about a sheep. The second is about a coin. The third is about a son–the Prodigal Son. It’s all in this chapter, and it’s all about finding what you’ve lost and rejoicing about it.

Have you been there before? I mean, put yourself in that shepherd’s sandals for a moment. You’ve got 100 sheep, and one of them wanders off. Gets lost. Sheep tend to do that. Would you let it go? Would you ignore it?

If you aren’t a shepherd, you might. But if sheep are your livelihood, you aren’t going to let one wander off, even if you have 99 others. Not while you can do something about it.

Sort of like this deal with the kittens. I have two cats already, Barney and Gremlin. They’re both a ton of fun and provide hours of entertainment and companionship. So it shouldn’t matter if I leave two kittens to die, right? I have two others.

If you’ve got pets, you probably cringed. No way could I abandon two kittens in a garbage dumpster when I have the power to do something about it. Not even if I have two others. Because it’s not about the other two who are already safe. It’s about the two who aren’t safe.

Isn’t that how God sees Christians? He loves us. We’re His children. He gave His Son so we could have a relationship with Him. But not every Christian lives the kind of life they should. Some wander off and get lost in the world, and those of us who don’t–the ones who stay behind like good little sheep–sometimes write them off. But God doesn’t. And we shouldn’t either.

God is just as keen to seek out His children who wander off as He is to stay with His children who stick around. And as much as He rejoices when one of them comes home, we ought to rejoice just as much.

When’s the last time you truly rejoiced when a Christ-follower came home after a time of wandering? Did you actually rejoice? Or did you just look down your nose and judge them? Did you give them the cold shoulder? Did you hold their past over their heads and snub them?

That’s not how God treats them. God rejoices when they come home. God went out of His way to bring them home. So we ought to celebrate, because He sure isn’t being quiet about it.

He rejoices when the lost are found again. So we should too. If you can’t get happy about that, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

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