Good Lostness

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 — Week of Proper 3, Year One

John Calvin, Theologian, 1564

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 968)

Psalms 26, 28 (morning) // 36, 39 (evening)

Deuteronomy 4:15-24

2 Corinthians 1:12-22

Luke 15:1-10

God is always finding the lost. Sometimes “lostness” is the place where we most deeply experience God.

Israel remembers with nostalgia the days of their wanderings, lost in the wilderness. There God fed, guided and protected them. We hear warnings today from Moses. Remember when you “saw” God — there was no image. God can’t be objectified. So don’t give your ultimate concern to any “thing”. No person is God, including yourself. Nor is anything created, even the universe (or even the words of a book). In the wilderness, lost and helpless, with nothing to fall back on except the presence of God, Israel was born. Be vigilant that the comforts of “being found” don’t distract and lure you away with their concerns and their less-than-ultimate value.

Paul remembers feeling lost and hopeless in his relationship with the church in Corinth. There was a time when his authority and his teaching was challenged. Some “super-apostles” came in and distorted his message. Paul’s gospel is simple — God has already accepted us as a sheer gift of grace. Nothing we can do can earn that; it is ours simply to receive. That’s faith. Anything else — circumcision, following laws, earning your righteousness — is death. It just makes you anxious — “am I doing okay?” Forget it! By faith you are saved through God’s grace. So, be confident. You are free to give yourself away in love, because you are safe.

While Paul was away from Corinth some legalists had come in and distorted the Gospel. Paul was distraught. (Chapters 10-13 probably reflect that “lost” time.) But now, Paul has received word that his friends have caught the message again. Somewhat rattled, and a bit on the defensive, Paul writes to them of his relief. Once again, everything is “Yes.”

And Jesus speaks of a shepherd and a woman who search diligently for the lost, and rejoice at their finding. In those stories, Jesus gives us an image of God.

There is a spiritual paradox. Often when we feel most lost — vulnerable, threatened, needy — that’s the time when God is most active in our lives. Although hidden from view, God is present — leading, nurturing, saving. Often when we have run out of resources, we are more willing to turn in trust to God, because we don’t have anything else to trust in. These are often times of spiritual richness and depth.

And sometimes when we feel most secure — things are in order, we’re doing great — that’s the time when we are most tempted by idolatry. We’ve got the answers; we’re taking care of life; we’re the good sheep tucked under the robe of the shepherd. That’s when we tend to act out of our own resources and are susceptible to pride in its many forms.

There is an inbetween place. We can humbly accept our lostness at the same time that we humbly accept our foundness. God has already found us and tucked us into divine life. But it’s just what God does. It’s not because of anything we’ve accomplished. God simply loves us. Whether we feel lost or found, God is loving, searching for and finding us.

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