"...he was lost..."
"For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found." (Luke 15:24)
So, why did the chicken cross the road? Better yet, today I ask, "Why did the earthworm cross the sidewalk -- when he could have stayed in the relative safety of the grass and earth where he belonged? I was plagued by this deep philosophical question this morning as I emerged from our clergy coffee group only to find this guy in the photo struggling across the sidewalk and headed toward the parking lot. From the looks of him you can already tell he was doomed. He was dehydrated with the beginnings of that classic shriveled-up, dry, almost-dead-on-the-concrete look about him. Pieces of rock had already started to stick to his skin --- and yet, he continued to head away from the earth and grass that might have saved him toward the black asphalt that would have cooked him in just a few more minutes. Maybe it was initially the warmth of the sidewalk on this cool morning that enticed him from the safety of mother earth. I don't know. What I do know is that even when he was on the edge of survival, almost completely done in by his mistake - lost from that which could nurture him in a healthy way -- he continued to head in the direction of death.
We love Jesus' parable of the prodigal son because in the end, the son found his way home. We love echoing the words of the father in the parable when he says, "For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found." In the parable the son ran out of money, hit a wall of desperation, and fortunately found his way back home before meeting with any additional difficulties. What if his inheritance had been a little bigger? What if his money supply would have allowed him to remain in his life of decadence a little longer? Would he have survived to return home for a happy ending? Unfortunately, once we've left the relative safety of healthy living and been seduced to the "dark side" we find ourselves taking all kinds of risks to get more of whatever seduced us in the first place. When we're in the middle of it we often don't realize we're headed further from health and safety and closer to heartache and destruction. The longer we stay in the dark the more risks we take, with each one potentially leading to despair and death. Even when others who love us try to intervene it may be difficult to hear their warning if we're already in the midst of sinful, unhealthy living. Like a dehydrated worm on the hot sidewalk of life, we may even know we're dying, but can't see our way back home because we're just in too far.
So here's the good news. First, we need to be careful anytime we find our self risking stepping away from what we know to be healthy into something that our radar tells us could be potentially harmful to our self or others - even if our brain is also screaming that it sounds fun and exciting. Sin can be very seductive, and quickly overcoming. (Talk to the earthworm.) Second, God is listening, even when we can't see our way back home from where we are. God will show us the next step if we ask. Third, we are called by God to help others find their way back.
I pray that God will help me find my way and also help me assist others to find their way back home. How about you?
(PS -- This morning after taking the photo I scooped up the earthworm on a seedpod and deposited him back in the grass.)
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.
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"...he was lost..."