In a moment Zoey was gone, but what came a week later was a story of hope. Zoey was lost in New York for over a week. It took thousands of posters, craigslist ads, false leads and a massive search crew to see her home. Her owners to this day keeps every lost poster ad to remind them never to give up hope.
It seems a no-brainer to search for a dog that is missing, how much more a human being? Imagine discovering your dearest friend missing – what it would stir in your heart? But, here is where the news is a little off – they could be standing right next to you.
Is someone more lost than we care to admit?
James 5:19 hits home with the realisation that a missing person may be closer than we think:
“if anyone among you wanders from the truth.”
We are confronted with the reality that our church family; our sisters; may not always stay close to home. James says they will wander. It’s a slow, casual walk…gradually moving away.
Jesus in Mark 4 reveals the kind of pressures that make many give way:
“5 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
It’s the knawing of hardships, the creeping distractions, the mounting busyness. I bet we can all think of one friend. Sometimes we know they are wandering, but we refuse to admit that they really are as lost as we can see. And before we take a leap of judgement, can’t we all identify that all of these temptations put significant pressure on our faith?
It’s easy to slide away from being at church and bible study, when the busyness gets too much. It’s easy to be swept up in a holiday home, the Sunday cycle, the family gathering… the social scene is far more appealing than a commitment to turn up to be fed the word of God. It’s exceptionally hard to keep trusting God, when the suffering makes a massive dent in a once tame existence.
We all know the lure. So, let’s think again: Is someone you know more lost than you care to admit? Perhaps, first things first, you need to declare your friend ‘missing’ in your heart?
Will you pull out all the stops?
Then James calls us to work out our faith in an act of rescue as he says twice “to bring them back”. It is every believer, speaking the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:15), or as Galatians 6: 1 says, “to restore one another gently”. It’s hauling out the posters, following leads, posting an ad on Facebook. Do we do whatever it takes to bring them home?
Once you have owned who they have become, maybe pursue them this week with a phone call, ask for a way in which you can pray for them or, if the relationship allows a follow up, gently remind them of their first love.
James is calling us to never give up hope.