Thursday, July 10, 2014

On Lost Things . . . and Lost Relationships

We lose things . . . I lose things!  And sometimes, regrettably, I lose people.  As I get older it seems that I misplace my keys, my computer thumb drive, and my glasses and other things with greater frequency.

Thankfully, I do not lose people with the same frequency -- and I have grown better at holding on to family, friends, and even good acquaintances as I have matured and my faith and understanding have deepened. 

Sometimes relationships end . . . for various reasons.  Those endings should be of concern.  As followers of Christ it should be said of us that we are faithful and loyal to people in our lives, and that we never casually discard a family member or friend.  We should even love and care for our enemies, as the Lord commanded.  Sometimes we must sever links between ourselves and others . . . but those times must be well-defined by our compliance with scripture, or only as God leads in rare situations.

But what of family members, friends, or acquaintances who separate themselves from us?  What of these lost relationships?

Jesus gives some good advice with 3 parables in Luke's gospel, chapter 15.  First, he talks about lost sheep.

Jesus said that some people are like wandering sheep who just strayed unintentionally away from the flock.  They put distance between them and you . . . or them and others . . . without any more purpose than distraction.  

Jesus taught:  "Go and find them!"

Do what YOU can to reestablish connection and closeness.  If you succeed there will be cause for celebration.

In the second parable, the Lord said that losing people is like a woman who lost one of her coins. 

This lost coin didn't just wander off . . . the woman was careless or thoughtless.  She made a mistake or failed in her personal responsibility.

Jesus taught:  "Look until you find it!"

Leave no stone unturned, look in every nook and cranny.  Confess your irresponsibility, your carelessness, your mistake and ask for forgiveness.  Do everything that you can to restore this lost relationship.

This week I carelessly lost a computer pocket flash drive.  I looked in my pockets, on my desk, in the clothes hamper!  I turned the whole house upside-down.  I finally found it deep in my car seat where it had fallen out of my pocket.

Jesus said that when the woman found the coin she called all of her neighbors and other friends to let them know how happy she was that she had found what she had lost.

In the third parable, Jesus talked about a son who breaks his Father's heart . . . and the familial bond . . . in a personal act of self-centeredness and self-separation.  This is the well-known story of the Prodigal Son.

Sometimes we lose relationships and connections . . . not because your friend strayed, or wandered away on an unnoticed stroll . . .  and it was not your own carelessness or irresponsibility that caused the rift . . . sometimes he makes specific choices that cut the ties of connection and sever the friendship or fellowship.

Jesus taught:  "Let them go, but also, always be willing to take them back!"

When someone pulls away from you, you will not always be able to hold on to them.  They have their own will . . . and may choose a way that causes them to part company and connection with you.  You must give them the space that they have chosen without pursuing them in your own interests.  You must respect their decision.

I heard a story about an elderly (hey, I'm one of those!) husband and wife . . . riding through town in their pickup truck.  They pulled up at a traffic light behind another car where a younger couple sat huddled closely together as they traveled.  The senior wife said, "I remember when WE used to cuddle up like that!"  To that, the husband (who was driving) said, "Humph . . . I ain't moved!"

It is the responsibility of the one who "moved" away . . . to choose to come back.

Sometimes "absence makes the heart grow fonder," but sometimes parting family members, friends, or loved ones never return and some fractures in relationship can never be repaired. 

When a prodigal family member or friend returns . . . the return and resumption of the relationship MUST be based upon the resolution of whatever caused the departure.  There has to be an exchange of repentance and forgiveness.

But . . . when there is a return . . . have a party!  Celebrate!

The PEOPLE in our lives are our greatest treasure . . . appreciate them for their value.  Jesus' words are helpful.  What a friend we have . . . in Him!  He will never lose us or chose to turn away from us.

"Everyone that the Father gives to me, shall come to me . . . and whoever comes to me, I will never turn away."  Jesus - John 6:37

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