On my 21st birthday, my mother gave me a jade ring, which she had bought in Hong Kong on her way home from China. She died a few years later, and that ring is one of the few things of hers that I still have.
God is expert at finding what is lost… He finds human beings, right when we think the cause is lost.
I was wearing it recently during the Western Australia district Mission & Ministry Conference. One evening I went for a brief dip in the ocean between sessions and, you guessed it, the ring slipped off my finger.
The sea was churning with small surf and I knew I would never see that ring again. I guess my attitude was one of resignation. I always try not to cling too hard to material things, and here was a test of whether that held true. I had kept the ring for 38 years, and that would have to be enough.
The beach was almost deserted, but earlier I had noticed an elderly prospector some way off, with a waterproof metal detector. He now was only about 30 metres away.
Carefully measuring my footsteps so that I could retrace them, I moved towards him, until I could call out and ask for his help. I couldn’t hear his reply, but when I turned to go back, he slowly followed me to the spot. He was an expert with his gadget and, within a couple of minutes, had recovered the ring from the chest-deep water.
He didn’t ask for payment, but I couldn’t help rewarding him. This was not because the ring has much cash value, but because it means a lot to me personally.
Like that old prospector, God is expert at finding what is lost. What God finds is much more precious than that old ring. He finds human beings, right when we think the cause is lost. God dives in to find them, lift them up, restore hope to them, and wrap them in his love, love that knows no favourites.
Everyone who is found receives the same love, freely given. We are one family in him.
By ‘him’, I mean Jesus Christ, of course. Jesus is God come to find us. Jesus is God who loves me just as I am.
Jesus places himself between God and us, and between us and other human beings. He bears the guilt, the pain, the barbs, the insults, the death threats, the murder, the hatred, and the violence that kills us.
He doesn’t just find us: he dies when we should die. He lives that we might live. He gets the justice we deserve, and gives us the life God wants us to have.
That day at the beach, I knew I would never find that ring, no matter how much I searched. It took just the right person to come and find it.
Jesus is that person. He came to look for and to save people who are lost (Luke 19:10). That’s how it is for you and me. That’s how it is for the church. That’s how it will be for family, friends, strangers, and enemies, and all who are lost, when we pray for them, help them in their need, tell them of Jesus, and love them just as he loves us.