Celebrate, The Lost is Found

I was asked to speak a few weeks ago for a Sunday night service. The topic was “Celebrate, The Lost is Found” and the passage was Luke 15:1-10. The parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin has significant meanings behind them and I found this parable applicable to my life. I never understood what it meant to be lost until I decided to come to Graceland University. In May of 2013, I was a senior in high school getting ready to graduate with sights set on attending a community college near home. There were reasons behind my decision in attending a school nearby because ultimately I wanted to stay close to home to help out my parents in taking care of my grandparents and I had everything I needed at home. I had an incredible church, a lot of friends, and the best family an individual could want. However, God had different plans for me. I received a phone call in May by a track coach from Graceland. My parents decided for me to visit the school because they were willing to give me a track scholarship and it was an enticing offer. On my visit, I fell in love with the place and decided a week later that this is the school I wanted to attend. During the summer, I did not think a lot about what my decision meant and enjoyed my summer. It was not until I was getting ready to leave on the plane when I truly understood what my decision meant. No more seeing my family everyday. No more home style Indian food cooking. Most importantly, no more church that I went to my entire life. All of this was going away and I was going to a place where I only knew a few people and I had no friends. I was having second thoughts and I did not know if this was the best decision. I was lost!

After I said my farewells to my family and got onto the plane, I questioned whether I should leave this plane and stay in Dallas or was it too late? During this thought process I saw an individual who was fairly large walking in the aisle trying to find a seat. Southwest allows open seating, however I was hoping this large individual was not going to sit next to me because I did not want to have to deal with being crunched up. Despite my thoughts, he decided to sit next to me and I did not think the day would get any worse. This individual introduced himself and was trying to talk to me throughout the entire flight. I was not being talkative back because I did not feel the need to and there were a million thoughts going through my head. Was this a mistake? God, is this what you truly want? It was an uneasy feeling throughout the flight and the individual next to me continued to talk to me. I told him what my plans were and I was leaving home and I wanted to preach the gospel after college. It was towards the end of the one hour and thirty minute flight that the individual sitting next to me said, “Stanley, God is going to use you for his ministry”. If that was not enough, he proceeded to take his wallet and give me a one hundred dollar gift card saying that I needed to use this money for whatever I needed in college. He told me that I was making the right decision in going to this school and he hopes for the best for me. I got his information and as I got off the plane, I went to the restroom to gather myself. Tears filled my eyes and I asked the Lord to forgive me for doubting the decision I have made. That day continued and now three years later I am continuing my education at this school and it has been the best decision I have made in my life thus far. I feel in some ways found!

After reading the passage Luke 15:1-10 I see that the ninety-nine sheep in the passage was my family, friends, and church. However, I was still searching for my lost sheep, which was ‘the calling of the Lord.’ I did not know what God had in store for me other than I wanted to do his work and his ministry. I was blessed to receive his assurance through the individual who sat next to me on the plane. But there is this one part of the passage that is so often overlooked. It is the reaction of the shepherd in finding the lost sheep. “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’” (Luke 15:5-6). When I had received the assurance from God that I made the right decision, I was sure to tell my closest friends and family about this story. However, it was not until a few weeks ago when I shared this story to my college that I realized I had not celebrated well. I needed to share this story with everyone. I want you to know that God worked in mysterious ways for me and he guided me to the right college and the right career path.

Despite doubts, frustrations, and uncertainties, Christians should always depend on God to make a way for them. There may be questions in your life that you may not have the answers to. You may have doubts about certain areas of your life and things may not be going the way that you want them to go. You may not have all the answers, nor will there be a miraculous sign that shows up on your doorstep always. But you need to trust God to find for you that which you have been seeking. He provides for those who trust in him. Luke 15:1-10 carries multiple meanings behind the passage. One meaning is to trust God always, because a day of celebration will follow. God will continuously provide for those who follow after him and I hope that this message will bless those who read my story.

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