In August, almost one year ago, Jori, my friend who also is a pastor, travels to a national park in central Finand to have four days of loneliness and silence before the work starts again, after the vacation. The same evening this happens: On the beach he meets an older man from the area. The man is waiting for a friend, another old man, that has gone to get a boat from the northern part of the national park, around 10 kilometers away.
The hours pass and late that night they realize: The man is still somewhere and they don’t know where. Something must have happened. They involve the police that start to look for the man, without success that night. The project continues the next day. One challenge is that the man who is lost both has diabetes and a memory problem.
Six or seven police patrols are doing their best. The Red Cross and the border guards are there. A helicopter is in the air and the man is also looked for by a thermal imager. A big amount of regular people have involved in the project as well. Late that night the message comes: The man is found after 36 hours of searching! He is alive and in quite good shape.
Why do I tell this? In Luke 15 Jesus shares a story about a shepherd that leaves his 99 sheep in the desert and does his everything to find the one that is lost. The story can teach us a lot about how Jesus puts his priorities, his heart for each and every individual and the inviolable worth of every human being. The man that was looked for in the park was in one way a nobody, a person that those who were seeking did not know. However, they still put a lot of energy, money and time in the project. And the leading police officer cried when the man was found.
I am deeply touched by the story. What if we in our churches had the same heart for those that are not yet there.