In Luke 15, Jesus gives all these examples of things that are lost, sought out, and eventually found. He talks about this coin, and when the coin is lost the person forgets everything including the other coins, to tear up the house to find it. He tells of a sheep who gets lost and the shepherd who leaves the flock behind to find the one. He also talks about a son who essentially extends his middle finger to his father, takes a bunch of money, and runs to Vegas.
Sometimes I feel a little lost in God’s shuffle. There is what, 9 billion people in the world now? And God is supposed to be God to all of them, regardless if he is the God to them. So out of 9 billion, why would God pay any attention to me? I get this feeling a lot, and somehow God always winks at me and let’s me know that he called dibs on me a long time ago.
I used to play with action figures quite a bit growing up, in fact I think I played with action figures a little too long. Wrestlers were always my favorite. I had all the wrestlers and the rings and everything. I had matches set up everyday, championships, and the whole works. Even right now, within grabbing range, is one of my very first Hulk Hogan action figures.
Each wrestling toy that I had had a story, they had a destination and purpose. Whether they were just a down and out wrestler, never to win a championship, or had a wonderful winning streak going, I knew all their names and their history; the history I had given them. Of course, I had favorites too, perennial champions, main event headliners, and those who always got to be in the steel cage matches.
I had complete control over all of them, and I have always viewed God like this too. I often envision God grabbing action figures (us) off the shelf and playing with them, setting them out on their journeys to success and fame. I imagine him picking up us as action figures, wrestling them around a little bit, with some winning and some losing, and then discarding some of us when our arm falls off or something.
Every once in a while, I feel like God may have lost me under the bed and doesn’t remember that I was once his champion.
When my family moved to Trinidad when I was in the 2nd grade, we had to pack up everything we had and ship it there. It took months for the shipment to get to us, in the shipment were all of my action figures and toys, so it was a boring couple of months. When the shipment finally arrived, I dug through all of my wrestlers to play with them. Honestly, I probably had about 100 or so of them.
But when the shipment arrived, I noticed one was missing. It was the Ultimate Warrior toy with jumping action.
I thought it had to be a mistake, so I searched over all the toys again, but he wasn’t there.
I’ve been that action figure a lot in my life. I think a lot of the times when I feel lost in God’s shuffle, I do stupid things to get noticed, I run away and become the one. I become the sheep, the coin, or the son.
I used to work at this restaurant that served most all of their meals on paper plates. Salads and desserts however went on real, nicer plates. We had hired a bunch of new kids and noticed that a lot of the real plates kept ending up missing. The managers got tired of it happening, so they made us start making a plate count at the end of the shifts. We had x amount of plates and if all those plates weren’t accounted for we had to go out to the trash bags and find them.
Remember, all the other meals were served on paper plates, so digging through the trash was basically digging through people’s scraps and leftover chewed up food. It was disgusting. People are disgusting, and the things they do to their food Is disturbing. But we had to dig through it regardless, all for one plate.
This is what Jesus did.
When we opened the trash bags, we didn’t start cleaning the bag and the paper plates, we just went searching for the real plate. In the same way, Jesus enters into the muck and grease and gross of this world all to come find the one.
He doesn’t enter into the mess and start telling people what they are doing wrong and how to fix it, he enters into the mess and just lives. He enters in and gets dirty.
He doesn’t present us with an easy guide to fixing all of our problems and how to overcome ourselves, he just shows us how to live. He goes and he seeks out the ones that have strayed away. He seeks out the me’s and the you’s, and the coins and the sheep.
He enters into the trash to find the one, and that blows my mind because in my mind God should just be able to pick up the action figure that represents us out of the trash and put us back on the right track, but we aren’t action figures. Instead, God sends Jesus to enter into the trash to get us out of there. He doesn’t send him to ask us how we got there or how to get out, he leaves the other 99 behind and comes to find us.
I’m thankful that Jesus has nothing better to do with his time than to hunt me down in the trash.
Every time I feel like I’m lost it is my own doing because I think I need to know God is there and still paying attention. I need to know that I’m not lost under his bed with a bunch of other weird action figures and headless Barbies. I need to feel His pursuit.
I don’t think this is manipulating God though, I think it is just how we work together. I’m the one sheep that gets lost in the woods often, and I’m sure he gets annoyed a lot when he has to leave everyone else behind to come find me because I thought I saw something moving in those bushes over there.
I have this kid on the soccer team that I coach who is legally blind. When we are playing games, if I don’t pay enough attention, he is wandering around the field, hanging on the goal, picking flowers and weeds, and I have to yell at him to pay attention. To be honest, it can be kind of frustrating when you’re trying to play a game and one of the kids is wandering away not even close to the ball or to the action. Then I just can’t help but laugh about the whole thing because I love that kid so much and wouldn’t trade him for any other player in our league. And the more I think of it, the more I am like this boy and the more I think God just understands my curiosity and can’t help but laugh.
Because when I run away, when I start to wander, I’m not doing it out of disobedience as much as I just want to keep moving. I can’t sit still knowing that God has a plan for me, and I’m impatient because I know that God’s plans are good. I’m the coin, the sheep, and the son. God is never far behind me, and I am never far from his sight. The more I seek, the more I’m sought.
And this makes sense to me, because God is funny like that.
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