Hundreds of volunteers and trained professionals had been combing the woods, calling for him to come to them for candy bars, ice cream and other food. Jacob who is 18 years old is nonverbal and has the mental capacity of a 3 of 4 year old which made it even more difficult for him to be found. “Finding him was like finding a needle in a haystack”, said one of the rescuers. His family credits God and their faith for getting them through this ordeal. Jacob is in good condition and after a night in the hospital he is home with his family.
Strangely enough Jacob and his family belong to the Chestnut Ridge Community Church, in Morgantown West Virginia, the very church we attended with friends this past Sunday. Thus on Sunday we got to witness a Celebration of Jacob’s Return! Appropriately the message that morning was taken from Matthew 18 and the parable of the Lost Sheep. In this story Jesus reminds his disciples that every single life matters. Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be lost and neither should we.
- A lost life is worth looking for, even those that wander away. I wonder how many times we’ve written people off just because they wandered away. Maybe they failed morally or simply disappointed or let us down. When they do that our tendency is to leave them alone and not to go after them but to let them come back to us. Jesus said, “ If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety –nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? “ Matthew 18:12
- Second, it takes reprioritizing our life and leaving the things we think are important to find someone who is lost. Hundreds of volunteers including the Governor of West Virginia put everything aside to look for Jacob. No doubt they had plenty of other things they could do but for those four days they put away everything else and risked their own lives to hunt for someone they didn’t even know or wasn’t part of their family.
- Third, finding someone who was lost is worth celebrating. The church put aside everything else they were planning to do that Sunday to celebrate, to celebrate the fact that Jacob was found. Sometimes we don’t take the time to celebrate enough. God is good, he’s good all the time and he deserves our praise but sometimes we don’t stop long enough to celebrate his goodness. “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matthew 18: 13
How about you? Do you know someone who has wandered away? I bet you do? How are you treating them? Jacob couldn’t rescue himself and most lost people can’t rescue themselves either. What Jacob needed was actually a group of people who were willing to do everything they could to rescue him, after all isn’t that what Jesus did for us.