Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reflections on Conversations Past
1st in a series of posts.

Have you "found Jesus"?

Have you ever heard anyone say "I've found Jesus"? Have you ever said it yourself? Many people, when they return to the church, or to spiritual life say it. Even people who had never lead a religious life, and then had a conversion experience say it. I've said it myself.

Recently, after a move, I've been hearing this statement a lot. It has caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with a friend several years ago. He was talking about a family member who had grown up going to church, and was raised in a family of faith. In young adulthood this family member had left the church, and more importantly had ignored his relationship with God. 

Let's face it, this isn't an uncommon story. Our society is full of temptations and distractions. We place a high value on being popular, on living the good life as depicted by our entertainment industry, our commercialism, our merchandising. Being popular, according to magazine and t.v. ads, movies and television shows, awards shows and music industry seems to require that we wear designer clothes, buy fancy cars, seek a materialistic lifestyle, and attend all the right parties. There are even some instances where drinking and doing drugs is made to seem glamorous. We are human, we all want to be liked, to be loved, it is not so hard to understand the temptation. This, of course, is an oversimplification of societal issues, and their impact on our spiritual and moral compass. I don't propose to solve the great questions of our society, only to express some of my own thoughts and views.

Anyway, back to this family member. For ease of storytelling, I want to give him a name (certainly not his own), so I will call him Jacob. So Jacob, later in life, started to realize that he was not a happy man. All of his pursuit of "fun", all of his possessions, and he was not happy. As he began to reevaluate his life, he came to realize that what he was missing, what he really needed, was God. He returned to church, he began opening his heart to God. He repented, on bended knee. Jacob sought to restore his relationship with God, he started actively learning what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Jacob started changing his life. Of course, we know it was God who was changing Jacobs life, but God gave each of us the gift of free will and Jacob had to be willing to make the changes.

Today, Jacob is a different man. Through the help of Jesus, Jacob has restored broken relationships with people he loves. He is meeting new people who share his love for Christ. He is living a life of faith. He is continuing to work on becoming a good and faithful servant. Jacob told my friend that his life has completely changed since he "found Jesus". 

I am so happy that Jacob "found Jesus", I am happy whenever anyone "finds Jesus". Jesus will continue to change our lives, He will be with us every moment of every day, He is our salvation.
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Every time I recall this conversation, I remember something else my friend said. He smiled with genuine joy that Jacob had "found Jesus" but he was also smiling with amusement. After telling me Jacob's story, my friend told me why he was so amused. He said, "I'm glad he found Jesus, but I didn't know Jesus was lost." 
I had never thought of it that way, but he was right. Jesus is not, nor has He ever been, lost. We are the lost ones when we stray away. He is always there, patiently and lovingly waiting for us to return. He is calling to us, can you hear Him? Sure, it may not be a call like we hear from each other, but He is calling out to us when we stray. I will never again say "I found Jesus". Rather, I will say "I was lost and Jesus found me, He called me back from the dark."

Matthew 18:12 "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?