For many people, one of the great treasures of fall is getting to hunt. A lot of time, money and effort are spent preparing for the opportunity to, particularly, deer hunt. People will travel from all over to come to their favorite hunting spot with great dreams of harvest. For some people the hunt is about getting food for the family. For others it is about time with friends or trying to kill that record buck. Whatever the desire, dangers are present during this time. Proper dress is required so that other hunters can identify you and with more hunters in the woods, safe shooting is a must. There is also the danger of other animals in the woods. Sightings of bears, bobcats and coyotes are on the rise. Then, there is the danger of losing your way in the woods and getting lost. Over a hill, through a hollow or entering a field, one must be aware of surroundings and how to get back. The woods always look different returning as opposed to going.
My friend and his brother have rented their property to some hunters from out of state. Their land is large and spread out among the hills and hollows. It would not take one very long to lose bearing if not paying close attention. Just recently my friends were going to their family farm when they were met by one of the visiting hunters. He looked worried and said, “We may have a problem.” One of his friends had not yet returned from his afternoon hunt and it was very unlike him not to call if he wasn’t going to return on time. The fear amongst all the men was that he was hurt, had run out of gas or was lost.
Many thoughts go through the mind at a time like this. One thought is for certain; the friend must be found as quickly as possible. To the woods everyone went with the racing thoughts of what might have happened and prayers that he would be found safe. After a period of travel and yelling for the next few hours a light was seen on top of a hill. Finally, the yells were heard and a man started making his way toward those who were shouting. Sure enough it was the man who had not returned to the house following his hunt. He had left in early afternoon and at this time it was close to 9 p.m. Thankfully, the man was safe. He had gotten turned around while walking and lost awareness of how to get back to the house. It would seem that at this time, lots of fun would be poked at the man. This was not the case as the man was just as afraid as everyone else. Though all the men felt relief, each one continued with anxious thoughts.
I can’t help but think of the spiritual application from this true story. Every one of us live with those who are lost. Those who we know as spiritually lost have a greater tragedy that awaits them at the end of life. They are in the figurative woods of life and have no hope of ever getting out unless they find Jesus. He is the only way to freedom from being lost (John 14:6). When those friends feared the worse, it was time for action. A plan had to be developed immediately to go and find this one man. Why do we not have the same mindset, for those who are spiritually lost? The pain and anguish of those who are literally lost should be the same as those who are spiritually lost.
Yet, we often fail to give those around us the directions for life that will assure safety. It is no problem to offer someone directions when they ask how to get to a certain place. We feel compassion for those who are physically lost. We offer them help because we have compassion for those who are afraid. The same compassion and urgency needs to be given to those who are in danger of their eternal lives.
To those who are spiritually lost because of lack of knowledge, we must take the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). For those who have once been in Christ but have lost their way, we need to desperately seek. Jesus spoke of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In Luke 15: 4ff., Jesus states, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”
How great it is to have friends who would immediately come to your rescue when you are lost. Should we not be so worried when one is lost? The lost are around us everywhere we look, yet no sense of urgency can be found. This lost hunter was experienced in the woods. He knew the woods and had spent a lifetime in them. However on this day, he lost his way. Those who know the woods came to his rescue to bring him home. For those of us who know the spiritual woods, let us with urgency send out the search party to bring the souls of the lost to the safety of Christ.
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible class and 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. All are invited. Please visit our website at elmgrovechurchofchrist.org. He invites any questions or comments and would love to sit down and study. He can be reached at the Elm Grove Church of Christ, 740-493-2451.