Trauma in life can bring a reason to celebrate, share joy

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003

An invitation to a party usually brings a sense of excitement to an otherwise "same-old, same-old" routine. The word "party" connotes a fun time with laughter and gaiety. Parties usually mean good food and good friends and conversation that's full of life.

A party means stepping out of everyday clothing and getting into something special.

The Bible doesn't call them parties, but that's what they were in three instances in the New Testament. Luke 15 relates these stories of lost and found things -- and the finding of each brought forth a celebration.

The first lost thing was a sheep. To the shepherd responsible for the safety and well-being of the sheep, this was a very traumatic loss.

The Bible tells us that this shepherd had 100 sheep and only one was lost. But to this man, one was too many. He had to find the lost sheep.

He searched until he found this lost lamb, and when he finally found it, he called his fellow shepherds, neighbors and friends together and had a party in celebration. What a reason for a party! He thought he was facing disaster, but with the return of the sheep to the fold, he could only rejoice. Every lamb, known to him by name, was special and he could not bear the loss of even one. He had a party and he shared his joy with others.

The second lost thing was a coin.

During this period of history, a married woman had a necklace or headband made of coins. This was worn all the time. If any of the coins were to go missing, it would indicate to the husband that she no longer wanted to be married to him.

When this woman found a coin missing, she knew that she must find it quickly. She searched under every piece of furniture, every rug, and, with her broom, swept the house clean until she found it. She reattached it to her headband and in her great joy, ran to invite her neighbors to her newly cleaned house for a celebration. She had saved her marriage by finding this simple coin, and her joy reached out to the whole neighborhood.

The third lost thing was a son. He didn't exactly get lost -- he walked away from his father's house on his own two legs -- but he was lost. His father didn't know his whereabouts, and the son had lost his direction in life.

The grief of the father showed in his every movement; his shoulders drooped, his steps dragged, his face sagged and his voice reflected sadness. The loss of this son was more than he could bear.

And the son had a loss, too. He lost his dignity, he lost control, he lost his good sense and he lost his zest for the "good" life he was heading for.

Finally, again on his own two legs, the son returned to his father's house, and when the father saw him coming, all the grief dissolved and was replaced with happiness. No questions were asked.

The party was planned while the back-pounding gladness was still happening. The son had come back, and that was all that the father needed.

All three of these losses put other things in life aside while the victims searched for the lost thing or person. Life focused on the loss for all three of them. And when the lost was found, a party was in order.

Jesus came to earth to seek and to save those who were lost. He's still searching for those who are lost. And when he finds one he wants all of heaven to rejoice with him, and the angels feel that great joy with him.

If you want to attend the "party of parties," just come on!

If you're separated from God, come on back. No questions will be asked, for he's waiting with wide-open arms. The Lord has spent all of time to this point just looking for his lost ones. Pretty soon, we'll all be joining him in the greatest party of all times, and it will last for an eternity.

Stuart Churchill is pastor of the United Pentecostal Church at Mile 16.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway. All are always welcome to attend this Bible-believing church.

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