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Have You Been Found?

October 25, 2021 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 15:20-24 (NRSV)

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

Focus

It’s common for Christians to talk about seeking and finding God as a precursor to their conversation. There is a sense in which this is accurate. But Christian faith is less a matter of finding God and more an experience of being found by God. This happens in conversion, to be sure. But God continues to “find” us when we wander away. God loves to welcome us home.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

In the 1970s, Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) launched an evangelism campaign known as “I Found It.” Billboards, flyers, and bumper stickers featured the slogan “I Found It.” “It,” if my memory serves me well, was something like “new life in Jesus Christ.” Thousands upon thousands of Christians used the “I Found It” approach to talk with their friends and neighbors about Christ.

But the campaign was controversial, and not only in “secular” or “anti-Christian” circles. Many Christians criticized “I Found It” for its seemingly inadequate theology. The main criticism I heard was that Christians haven’t found “it.” Rather, we’ve found a person, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We didn’t find “it.”

I don’t remember hearing concern about the “I found” part of that slogan, though I’m sure some folks raised objections. Today, I’m not fond of the “it” language, but what worries me about “I Found It” is the assumption that Christianity is mainly a matter of finding something. Even if CRU had gone with “I Found Him,” that would still make me fret that people would think of being a Christian as centered in our own seeking and finding. And this, I think, puts the action in the wrong place.

The parable we call “The Prodigal Son” makes it abundantly clear that our relationship with God is mostly a matter, not of finding, but of being found. In fact, this is true throughout Luke 15. We are like a lost sheep found by a shepherd. We are like a lost coin found by a woman. And we are like a lost son found by a father. Better than “I Found It” would be “I’ve Been Found” or “God Found Me.”

As I think about Christians I have known, it seems that the ones who are most familiar with the “God Found Me” reality are those whose lives were pretty messed up before they came to faith. They experienced in a profound way the gracious “finding” of God. This is wonderful, to be sure. But it means that for people like me, who grew up in a Christian home and who “accepted Christ into my heart” at six years old, “God Found Me” is harder to relate to. My theology affirms “God Found Me,” but the story of my life is not one in which there was one, monumental, extraordinary, life-changing experience of being found by God’s grace.

What I do have, however, are dozens of experiences of being found by God in different seasons of my life. I think of times when I wandered away from the Lord but he drew me back. I remember seasons of doubt when God graciously revealed his presence to me. I recall moments of desperation in which God granted “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I think of the fact that, 58 years after I first accepted Jesus into my heart at a Billy Graham crusade, I am still walking with the Lord, not because I’m so good at finding God, but because God is so good at finding me.

Reflect

When you first came to faith in Christ, did you experience this as God finding you? Why or why not?

Can you think of times in your life when you were “lost” and God “found” you? What was the experience of being found like for you?

Act

Talk with a good friend or your small group about experiences you and they have had of God “finding” you.

Pray

Lord Jesus, once again I thank you for the parable of the lost son. Thank you for the reminder that my relationship with you is less a matter of my finding you and more an experience of your finding me. Thank you, Lord, for reaching out to me. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for never turning your back on me. Thank you for the assurance that I belong to you because of your amazing grace. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Resolving Conflict (Philippians 4:2–9)


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3 thoughts on “Have You Been Found?

  1. Linda says:

    Raised by an atheist father and a mother who I think believed in God, I never attended church as a child. I attended after marriage for a year or so, but did so to please my in-laws. I didn’t really care to attend. Forty years later, at age 59 and without any outside influence, I had a very strong urge to attend a community church. I’m an extreme introvert and don’t like groups of people, especially as an outsider. Reluctantly and fearfully, I went to church and cried after the service. God plucked me from the masses and I was baptized at the end of August this year. When doubt enters my life, He always brings me back to the light.

  2. DiAnne says:

    Yes, my conversion was dramatic. Looking back, God had been working on me ever since college but He was not ready to reveal Himself to me until I was 46 years old and I remember the day when God appeared to me, sort of like He appeared to Paul, in a bright light; there was no doubt who this light was.

    I was in the middle of reading the book “Trusting God” by Jerry Bridges when He appeared to me in my den. I remember saying like David, “please don’t take my joy away.”

    3 days of revealing my sin I was curled up in a little ball every morning crying out to take the pain away

    Then I had a vision of Christ on the cross. I turned to God the Father and said I would feel like this for the rest of my life if I could be with Him forever, and that night an incredible joy came over me; and I knew I was saved. Not only that, the entire Bible was opened up to me.

    Of corse shortly before this dramatic occurrence God did come as a heightened interest where I was praying asking Him for help to do His will in a variety of circumstances and I did just what he said.

    It was after this time period He appeared to me. I would definitely say I was drawn in by the Father.

    John 6:44

    44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

  3. Joanthan Russell says:

    Thanks Mark, for this series. I too remember those yellow bumper stickers. We were not “bumper sticker folks” but my dad as a leader in our local church which distributed the stickers, agreed to put one on his Oldsmobile. He balanced it out with a “Wise men still seek him” one on the other side. That was the only time we ever had a car with bumper stickers. Interesting, and also theologically challenging, on the way home from church one Sunday evening I remember seeing a sticker that read, “I threw it away.” There seems to be a dual component of being found and responding to the call to come home.

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