There’s a story from my childhood…
It comes up every once in a while during family discussions. Though I don’t remember much about it, I’ve heard it enough to know it well.
When I was four years old, my family and I visited a very large reservoir at a state park about an hour or so from our house. We spent the day boating, fishing, and swimming with another family from our church.
As the story goes, sometime in the late afternoon, my curious little four-year-old mind got the best of me, and I took a walk. All by myself. Apparently, my little excursion, turned into a long walk of about an hour or more…circling the lake, throwing rocks and picking up sticks.
What I didn’t know was that 10 minutes or so into my exploration of the lake, my family realized I was not with them. My mom and dad began a frantic search. Every minute that passed elevated their concern. It wasn’t long before enlisted strangers and state park officials joined the search. Fear was reaching a panic state. Because my family knew I was not a confident swimmer (I was only four), the concern began to be that I had fallen into the lake and drowned. The thought of calling in a rescue and recovery team had crossed everyone’s mind. It must have been quite a scene.
But there I was, enjoying my nature walk, completely oblivious to the alarm I was causing a whole bunch of people. When I wandered back into the proximity of the search party, I heard panicked voices calling my name. When my mother got to me (this is the one part I remember), she was so relieved, yet she was angry. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you! We thought you had fallen into the lake!” Then, she almost broke me in half hugging me. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Being lost is something that the person who is lost doesn’t always realize is true about them. Just like that day when I was four, there are plenty of people lost spiritually…walking through life exploring the world as they know it. But make no mistake, without a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ, they are lost and circling the lake.
Often, there are people, family members and friends who realize the person is lost. Those friends do everything they can to help their friend find their way to Christ. And, year after year, with nothing to show for their efforts, they start to lose confidence that their family member or friend will ever be found. They begin to believe their loved one is “hopelessly lost.”
But when you read Hebrews 7:25, you get a different perspective. It says:
“Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. “ (HCSB)
You see, the key – to maintaining hope that someone comes to faith in Christ – is in the understanding that it is not their ability to be saved that matters at all. It is His ability to save. And, the writer of Hebrews tells us…Jesus is ALWAYS able to save.
Since Jesus is always able to save, the phrase “hopelessly lost” is problematic and when you think about it, totally untrue. No one you know – not even the vilest person – is “hopelessly lost.” That family member you’ve been praying for now for many years…they can be saved because Jesus can save them. Your son or daughter? That neighbor? Friend? High School classmate? Co-worker? Jesus can save them all.
Don’t give up! Keep praying. Keep loving. Keep sharing. Don’t ever stop circling the lake and calling out their name.
He is able.
No one is hopelessly lost.
Director, LifeWay Worship