I remember a time when I was little child, getting lost in a grocery store. I didn’t realize I was lost at first. One moment I was with my mother wandering the aisles, and the next minute, I was alone.
The first thought was, “Where did Mom go?” I didn’t think the problem was with me. I didn’t recall wandering off, but my mother was no where in sight and I was alone… with strangers!
The very next stage was panic. I don’t recall how young I was, maybe 4 or 5, but I was old enough to realize how serious of a predicament I was in. Had I lost my mother (and thus the rest of my family) forever? Who would take care of me? What would these strangers do to me? The thoughts that run through a child’s mind can take many shapes. This all led to the last stage … I started crying with all of my heart for Mom!
Today, at the age of 46, I still find myself off the planned path … lost. I think I am following Christ. Everything is going good. All my needs are taken cared of and my work in teaching and Bible studying are going strong. But one day, I look up and get a very clear sense that I am not currently walking with Christ.
When I was a young Christian, the first thought would have been, “Where did He go?” I didn’t stray off. I was doing what I always do. How could it have been my fault? Yet, when I open my Bible, I sense the mechanics of Bible Study, but not the Spirit. I can still do my translations, and analyze my clauses, by that still reassuring voice guiding my hands is silent.
Some would suggest that I had “lost” my salvation. This isn’t the case. When I was lost as a little child, did I lose my relationship with my parents and siblings? No! I lost my fellowship, but not my relationship. This is the same with God. If you are truly saved, you are adopted by God Himself (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:7). But just because you are His child, doesn’t mean you will not stray. The difference between a mature Christian straying away and a new believer is that we sense it quicker, because we miss the voice, of which we are accustomed to listening to. Just like every other Christian who is redeemed, pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and even lowly Bible teachers are filthy rotten sinners. We sin, and we stray.
Brother, have you also strayed from the sweet fellowship of Christ? Sister, do you find yourself alone, surrounded by strangers? There is good news for those who have strayed!
First, remember that God has not left you!
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Though we have wandered off the path, our Lord has placed us, and our sin clouds our view of our savior, we know that He is still there. Do you remember what our Good Shepherd said about the one lost sheep?
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Our God is not one who will turn His back on those who stray, but He is a loving Father who waits for His prodigal son. He is the good shepherd who will leave the 99 secured sheep to go and look for that one lost lamb. I know many brothers and sisters in Christ who will abandon their brethren when they stumble, Rather than try and bring them back to fellowship, they condemn them, turn their backs on them, and reject them. This is wicked and such spirits don’t come from God.
The second thing we must do, when we find ourselves on the wrong path, is to realize we were the ones who strayed.
1 John 1:5-10
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
It is impossible for a Christian to live in sin, and still walk with Christ. One famous Christian artist recently confessed that they were a sodomite (one who is a homosexual). His claims is that since God made him this way, he should accept it. The truth he forgot was that we all are sinners, not by the divine will of God, but because man disobeyed God and fell into wickedness. Each and everyone of us has a sin nature. We can feed that nature, or we can fight it through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. We don’t throw our hands up and continue to walk in darkness, but we seek to return to the light where our blessed Lord is.
Brethren, do you have the audacity to think you do not stray? God’s Word calls you a LIAR (1 John 1:8). Your only hope of a right fellowship with Christ is to repent and confess your sins! Which brings us to the next stage.
To repent (Greek: METANOIEO) literally means “to change your thinking.” One time, I found myself going down the wrong Interstate. I made the wrong turn on the D.C. beltway, and I was on the wrong road. Did I throw up my hands and continue down in the wrong direction? No, I turned around and got myself back onto the correct highway. When we find ourselves in the same situation with life, we don’t just give up and continue in our sin, but we make that u-turn, confess our sins to the One who already knows our situation, and get back to where we belong.
How will God react? Read this well-known story.
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Before the wayward son could even speak the words of confession, the father was already forgiving him? Why? Because the prodigal son repented. He changed his path and returned home.
When I found myself lost in that grocery store decades ago, I did what came naturally to a child — I screamed for Momma! I was lost, and I knew it. I couldn’t find her, but I knew she would do her best to find me! God is the same way. He will move Heaven and Earth to rescue you. All you need to do is cry out to Him, confess your sins, and seek forgiveness. Like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, He will come running and rescue us.
Have you strayed and got lost? Return to where you left Christ. Confess your sins to a loving God. Though a brother or sister might be upset that you have been restored, don’t worry about them. Once they wake up and find themselves on the wrong path, they will hopefully confess their sins and repent as well.