By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“ON BEING LOST (and found)”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 31:16
On the path of life… literally… I mean going down the highway or through the woods I can honestly say I have been lost only a couple of times. You probably have a story, too.
There was that time at Big Bend National Park when some college friends and I veered onto the wrong dry creek bed and got lost walking the 33-mile Dodson trail. We had to sleep in a remote place, unprotected, conserve our food and water but finally found our way back. The stars overhead that extra night were glorious, however. The other time I got lost will cost you dinner as it is best told face to face. And in both instances, as I look back I can see the hand of God providing protection and direction in order to live another day.
There’s an old saying that goes… “Beliefs is—if you don’t care where you are; you ain’t never lost.” I’ve always appreciated this phrase. It’s about one’s own self. As in… if you don’t care where you are… you can’t be lost… but if you do care where you are… it’s up to you to determine what needs to change. Sometimes it’s the location. Sometimes it’s us.
So, when it comes to being lost… one can be… lost in a geographical sense, but it’s clear to most of us that our lostness… emotionally and spiritually is a result of our own lack of centeredness, purpose, balance and what we truly believe has value… mattering not just to the self, but also to the people around us. Faith matters. It does. The Bible teaches… “Jesus came to seek and save the lost.” Word.
What does lostness look like, then? It depends. It depends on the set of values and ethics a person clings to. If my purpose in life is to be rich, then I’ll be lost most of my life as I’ll never have enough. If my goal is to be famous, I’ll always put more emphasis on my detractors than my friends. If perpetual beauty is what gives me meaning then I will eventually hate myself as my body changes, begins to wrinkle and sink and perfect that bit of sagging flesh my grandmother had. Yeah, even my grandmother got old and gray but her beauty was what was in her and not just what we saw in her last years.
Or what about this? A child who tries to grow up too fast… seeing some behaviors in adults as worthy of emulation when in fact those behaviors stunt personal and emotional growth. That child can get lost in a weekend or a heartbeat! Or that couple who forgot to tend to their friendship and the plans they had for a family and growing old together. They let life get in the way of all those plans and instead of fighting for each other… they begin to fight with each other. Another lost family opportunity. And when our lives are turned upside down and we’re all forced to live and behave in a way we’ve never known before, it’s easy for any of us to throw up our hands in disgust and in time… disrespect… allowing everything that is selfish within us to rise up to lead us astray. So, we must care where we are!
Where do we find life? How do we not get lost? It’s ancient and relevant… “Love God with all your heart, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Here we see how God finds us, caring for all, and in God we’re never lost.
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, the pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Towne Pearland. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi Your comments and/or questions can be sent to [email protected].