When Sharon Roseman was 5 years old, she had a very strange experience. She was playing Blind Man’s Bluff with some neighborhood kids, and it was her turn to be blindfolded while everyone else ran off to hide.
When Sharon took the blindfold off, she was suddenly terrified. She had no idea where she was. Nothing around her looked familiar. She was totally lost.
She was also in her own backyard. She recognized her mother sitting in a lawn chair but felt certain this was not their house and not their yard, and she didn’t understand why her mother was there or where they were.
Throughout her life, Sharon would have these moments where it seemed like everything around her shifted a quarter turn and she was suddenly disoriented. She found herself calling her brother from a payphone just blocks from his house because she simply couldn’t find her way there. She gets lost daily, on streets where she’s lived for 20 years, even in her own house.
For most of Sharon’s life, she kept this all a secret. Her family, her husband, her children—no one knew until that incident with her brother on the payphone. Eventually she underwent a lot of medical testing, and eventually learned there was a name for her condition—Developmental Topographical Disorientation—which was a relief, because it meant this wasn’t her fault.
And eventually the story got better—a scientist working on Sharon’s case put the word out to see if there might be anyone else out there with this same problem. Turns out there was—another woman named Sharon, interestingly enough. For Sharon and Sharon, finding one another was a huge joy—they were still lost, but at least they were lost together. (Source.)
Life can sometimes feel a little like Sharon’s experience—getting a little lost every day. And it’s so much better when you’re at least lost with someone else. I feel for that one sheep that got lost in the parable we heard a minute ago, not just because it was lost, but because it was alone.
When was the last time you got lost? Do you remember the feelings you had during that experience? Maybe you were stressed out because you knew you were going to be late for an important meeting, or you felt guilty because you thought you might miss you kid’s recital or ballgame. For me, what I experience most when I am lost is total frustration at myself and feeling stupid—because I should be smart enough to figure out how to get from one place to another.
But sometimes the voices in our heads when we’re lost—the voices that tell us we should feel stressed or guilty or afraid or stupid or ashamed—those voices are far different from what we might hear if we listened closely for God’s voice when we are lost.
Notice that when the shepherd found the sheep, he didn’t scold it for wandering off or read it a riot act about missing dinner or making him leave the other 99 sheep behind. He rejoiced. Maybe he had a little party and got party hats for all the sheep, I don’t know.
Oddly enough, I think the voice closest to God’s that we hear when we’re lost is that of a GPS. Seriously. When you’re following a route on your phone and you take a wrong turn, does Siri yell at you? Does Google Maps call you stupid? No; it just says, “Calculating new route.” Usually in a calm, non-anxious tone: “Calculating new route.”
What if we treated our times of being lost metaphorically the same way that a GPS treats our wrong turns on the road? What if when we made a mistake or a bad decision that changes our course in a not-so-great way, we could shut out the voices of fear and anxiety and shame and hear instead the calm, patient words: “Calculating new route.”
In a moment, Ryan will sing his song “The Streets of Havelock.” This song is full of images of being lost, of wandering, of doubting whether he’ll ever find his way home.
The good news is that it’s not all about us finding our way—in the end, it’s about God finding us. And as we heard in the parable of the lost sheep, it is in God’s nature to seek and to save the lost. It is God’s priority to go after those who are wandering and to find them wherever they are, however far from home they’ve ended up.
William Young’s novel The Shack was hugely popular when it came out a number of years ago, and my favorite quote from that book has to do with finding God—or, more importantly, God finding us. In it, a man gets the chance to ask Jesus some questions. One he asks is this: “Do all roads lead to you?”
Jesus responds, no, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. But I will travel any road to find you.”
Maybe you’re on the right road tonight and you know that Jesus is walking beside you. Maybe you’re pretty sure you’re lost and don’t know how to find your way back home. Maybe you’ve intentionally taken a road away from God and do not wish to be found. It doesn’t matter—God can and will take any and all of those roads in order to find you.
Have you ever lost your keys or your phone only to realize it’s in your hand? When we get lost, when we feel like we are far from home and far from God, it’s a little bit like that. We are never really lost to God—we’re always right there in God’s hand. We are lost, but we are together; we are found, wherever we are.
Sarah S. Howell