My father had been taking me into the woods since I was as young as I can remember. On one cold, bluebird sky fall day in my early teen years I was allowed to go out hunting by myself for one of the first times. My excitement was obvious as I walked across the property to one of our most remote areas where a particularly big buck had been seen that season.
Being careful not to crunch dry leaves and twigs with my steps, I moved along as quietly as possible. Just as I reached the large oak with rust colored leaves that I was to climb, I glimpsed a buck that was unmistakably the big one everyone wanted. He was walking quietly and alone slightly away from me and he had not seen, heard or winded me.
As I waited for a clear view, though, he eased across a creek at our property boundary and headed toward another wooded area where I felt sure he would stop. I snuck over to the creek and knowing that our neighbor allowed us onto his property, I crossed on a small beaver dam.
Over the next hour I followed where I thought the deer had gone, until suddenly realizing that I was completely turned around in an unfamiliar forest, I had not marked my way, and was completely lost. This was well before cell phones and I was cold, scared and lost.
When it happens
To be transparent, the premise of that story has happened several times in my life. In pursuit of selfish, not-so-noble or even sometimes noble goals, we can all get lost. We may get lost because of a tragic event or circumstance that throws us off track.
It may be during a season of life or even that we grew up somewhat lost and did not have the guidance or spiritual direction that might have centered us better. We might even go so far as to feel that God has abandoned or not carried us in at times.
If we have been lost in any way, whether to a small or great extent, there is good news! Even if we may feel like it, God never leaves us, and we even have the power to fix the disconnect. C.S. Lewis wisely explained that “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.”
The choice is our own.
The prodigal son returned, Thomas believed fully again once he touched Jesus’ wounds, and Saul turned from his old ways.
In Matthew 18:12-14 we given this story: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
We may want to belong in the ninety-nine, but when we do not, we can be assured that He can find us.
The Word is filled with stories of people just like us being lost and finding their way as examples that each of us can, too. Most of all, God wants us to be found, and gave us the ultimate guidance – His only Son. We can find the guidance that we need through the love of a friend, a message at church, the touch of a loved one, the words in His book, and the gift of salvation.
As we are in this time of celebration and gathering, let us remember that Christmas is a season, but it also a gift of guidance. He can find us wherever we wander and remind us that He has already given each of us all the direction that we need.
The glory of the Lord shines around us and we have the good news that brings us great joy. When we are lost and need help, just ask and stay brave. When we need hope, seek it and we will find it. We have a compass and a light in this Christmas season as we celebrate His birth.
May you be safe in the grace and guidance that His birth gives to you every day and forever.