Today’s blog features one of my favorite parables that Christ told.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10
I think this resonates so much with me because I re-enact this scenario to various degrees multiple times a week. I’m forever putting something down and not remembering where I put it or storing something in that “special place” and promptly forgetting. Lately I’ve been questioning the laws of mass and energy – I’m not so sure that matter is not created or destroyed. I’ve had too many stitch markers and pencils evaporate into thin air while I’m knitting. And like this woman, as soon as I realize my loss, I’m ripping up the couch cushions, crawling on the floor, retracing my steps trying to find the blasted thing.
This parable is one in a series of analogies that Christ gives to help people understand the heart of God towards them. Another well-known parable is the shepherd who has lost one lamb out of a flock of 100 and does not rest until he has located the lamb and carried it back to the flock. There are several truths that emerge about the character of God from these descriptions. First, both the woman and the shepherd have a lot of coins/sheep. The loss of one, though sad, is probably not considered that dire by the people listening. But notice how the woman and the shepherd respond: they’re not content to cut their losses and be happy knowing they still have all but one. All of their energy is invested into finding the lost one. The woman sweeps through the whole house; other translations give the feeling of her literally ripping the house apart to find that coin. The shepherd leaves the rest of his flock and does not return until he’s found that lamb. In this we see a beautiful picture of God’s pursuit of us. He does not rest until He has found us and restored us back to His household. His love knows no bounds, there’s no limit to His coming for us.
Next, notice what the coin and lamb did. That’s right – not a single thing. There’s absolutely no indication that the coin or lamb participated at all in being found. The lamb did not decide that life in the pen was not so bad after all and decided to go back. They weren’t trying to be found. The woman and the shepherd took all the initiative in finding their lost coin and lamb. I once read a quote that says “In those times when I can’t seem to find God, I take comfort in knowing that He finds me”. It’s stuck with me all these years. We get so caught up in thinking that we have to save ourselves, make ourselves better, clean up our act, and get it together. But we don’t. Like the coin and the lamb, we are helpless to make ourselves found. It is God who does the finding and saving and we, like the little lamb, just need to rest in His arms knowing that He will find us and carry us home.
Third, there’s a party! When I would hear this as a child I always thought that was a bit excessive. Sure, it’s great that they found their missing coin/lamb, but throwing a party about it? That’s getting carried away isn’t it? But no, it’s not because the response is proportional to how valued the coin/lamb is. Because we are precious to our Creator, there is great rejoicing when we are restored. Christ emphasizes that in several of his parables – there’s always a party when there’s restoration. The lost lamb is not punished for wandering off: instead the shepherd is exultant that the lamb is back with him. God’s response to us is one of joy and celebration.
One of the first consequences to sin was hiding – from God and from each other. And we’ve been on the run ever since. But so has God. He always comes after us, willing to go to any cost to hold us in His arms again and tell us we are loved.
Blessings to you,