Rarely does a Vacation Bible School fail to remind me of the year we unwittingly acted out the Parable of the Lost Sheep. We had a lamb here for the occasion and, being a little skittish, he escaped into the streets of downtown Montgomery. A number of us chased him in and out of traffic, across intersections, and along the sidewalks, until finally he dashed back onto our property and someone tackled him. He was terrified and we were exhausted, but a lesson was learned. Just as we went to all that trouble to save the lamb, so will our heavenly Father go to every extreme to save each and every lost sheep in his creation. We live in the great hope that all those we love, and even those who do not love us, will be sought after, found, and redeemed by God’s grace. To say anything otherwise is to say that sin is greater than grace. The resurrection shows us that grace is the most powerful force of all and it will eventually win out in even the most hopeless of cases
There are lost sheep in all of our lives. Each of us has people who just seem to keep on making the wrong choices, people we desperately hope will one day finally get it and stop their destructive paths. We all know people who keep hitting bottom but don’t seem to reach out and claim the help and support that is available. They keep sabotaging their own lives and seem destined for more and more suffering. Utterly confounding are these people. It seems we have tried everything we can think of but nothing seems to work. It’s disheartening because we care for them and want them to know the goodness of life.
The parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7) offers us some reassurance that those who are lost will be found by the grace of God. If I will risk life and limb to save a lamb from getting hit by a car, surely God will do whatever it takes to save the lost souls of our world. We live with that hope. But it is also true that we don’t see all our hopes realized. Many of the lost souls in our lives die before they find grace. Or sometimes we die before we see them find it. Grace, we are assured, will win out. But we have a limited time on earth and we don’t get to see everything worked out to fulfillment. Our earthly existence is full of limitations and it seems pretty clear that much of what needs to get worked out takes place in the next realm rather than this one. We have hope but not all of it is realized in this life. And so we extend our hope to that next life.
The 4th Chapter of Deuteronomy has Moses telling the Israelites that he will not go into the Promised Land with them. He has led them up to the Jordan but the crossing of it and the entering into the land flowing with milk and honey is not going to be his to see. He speaks of the great hope which sustains the people of faith but acknowledges that he himself will not realize the hope before he dies.
There is great comfort in coming to know that God will indeed straighten out all that needs healing. God will pursue all the lost souls, heal all the wounds, bring peace and unity, make all things well. But that is not going to happen before we die. So much of the work of reconciliation and redemption will take place after our appointed time on earth. We are limited. God’s grace is unlimited and will continue to work after we have died, even after all of creation has finished its time on earth. The time-clock that applies to our earthly existence does not apply to God’s eternal grace. Redemption is assured. But we won’t see it all before our time here is up.
I’m beginning to take great comfort in knowing that God will continue to work after my day is finished. The huge problems facing humanity will not be sorted out in my lifetime. But they will be sorted out. And not because we are smart and innovative. All will be sorted out because God’s grace will not be defeated by sin or time.
Take heart that all the things you see as signs of how horrible life is will one day be healed, redeemed, taken care of, made whole. God is seeking out all the lost sheep and one day all of creation will know the great love of God as we know it in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Parish Covered Dish Supper
Tuesday, June 11, 6:30 pm – 3314 Allendale Place
Bring a dish to share – Beverages Provided