What’s one of your favorite places in the world? As a boy the Air Force Museum in Fairborn, Ohio was one of two places I loved to go to; the other was a railroad yard. For those who have never been to the Air Force Museum in Ohio, it was first located on Wright Patterson Air Force Base in one of its large hangers. Today its located just south of the air force base, and it is huge facility.
A number of years after we married we took our children to visit it. About a half-hour into our self-guided tour of the museum, a voice over the PA system penetrated into my consciousness, “Will the parents of Nathan Alford please come to the information booth.” Apparently my wife also heard the announcement. I was intently viewing one of the paintings of a plane on the wall when I heard the announcement. I knew my wife was a few feet to my left with the girls. So as the last echo of the announcement faded away I looked at her. Our eyes met. I could read her mind through her eyes, as she did the same with mine, I thought you had him! Embarrassing. “I’ll go get him,” I reassured her. It was a scary thought that we…ahem…I mean… I lost our son so easily. Anyway, as I turned to reclaim him, I felt relief .
On my way to the information booth near the entrance to the museum, I worried about the boy. I said to myself, He is probably a puddle of inconsolable tears. It is a fearful experience to be lost. I turned the corner that opened up into a large concourse that gave me a straight line of sight view of the information booth. And in the distance in the middle of it I saw our son. He was sitting on a swivel chair, and he was merrily spinning round and round. I smiled. So much for crying and tears, as I had imagined. He was having the time of his life! I told the airman that I was the boy’s father. Nate hopped down from the chair and came to me. I thanked the man, and Nate and I walked back hand-in-hand to where his mother and sisters waited for us. We resumed our tour. I’m thankful that our son wasn’t lost for very long, that we were quickly reunited. This story has a happy ending.
I’ve always been curious about what’s beyond the mountain range; what’s on the other side of it. There is more to see. Life is filled with mystery. I never get tired of seeing the moon in broad daylight. That is an amazing sight! I can easily march to the beat of a different drummer. I believe our son inherited my curiosity.
Someone said that sheep nibble themselves lost one patch of grass at a time. Isaiah says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”[i] I was part of “we all.” However, I’m thankful Jesus found me. I was a lost rebel and heading down a bad path at the age of eighteen.
Luke records a parable of Jesus about a shepherd who searched for his lost sheep, and finding 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.’”[ii]
There is a lot said about God these days. I’d like to add to this conversation about God. God is the seeking God. God in Christ is like a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine safe in the pen and ventures forth to tirelessly look for the one lost sheep. It may be easy to say God doesn’t care. But God does care about for us—God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.[iii] A sinner is one who misses the mark, like an archer who shoots an arrow at the target but misses it. It is love that motivates God to search for his own lost sheep. Thankfully, God is out searching today for his lost sheep. Are you one of them? God loves you. Your story can be a happy one in Christ Jesus. I’d like to think of God having a happy dance when he finds a lost sheep. That’s awesome!
[i] Isaiah 53:6
[ii] Luke 15:5-6
[iii] Romans 5:8