Lost or Lost?
Luke 15: 3-7 Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
There are actually three parables in Luke 15 (the chapter where Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son), and each of them is about a person who finds something that was lost. In contrast with the father who waits for his lost son to return to him, the shepherd in this story goes looking for his lost sheep.
This seems to suggest that there are different sorts of "lost" a person can be. Sometimes we are lost without realizing it (like the son). You can imagine that if the father came looking for his son before the son was ready to come home, the son would probably have slammed the door in his father's face. The sheep, on the other hand, was lost and unable to find its own way back home. Perhaps it was hurt. Perhaps it didn't know which way to go. In this case, it is the endless compassion of the shepherd that leads him to find his lost sheep.
Sometimes we are lost in ways that make it impossible for us to come back on our own, and sometimes we're lost in ways that we aren't ready to admit or don't want to do anything about. These parables show us an infinitely gracious and wise father who is willing both to wait and to come looking.
If by chance you're feeling lost right now, what sort of lost are you? Talk to your father/shepherd a bit about what you're feeling and thinking.