So, on Thursday morning I woke up to this:
An empty ring. I have no idea where I lost the diamond that should be in it. We have searched the house and the moms I babysit for both searched through the bags their kids' bring each day, but there has been no sign of it.
This is the first time I have ever lost something so valuable, either in terms of dollars or sentiment. This is, after all, my engagement ring which I have worn almost continually for close to 17 years. As I shook out our sheets and felt all inside the chair where I sat before bed on Wednesday night, I felt sick about it being gone. I teared up whenever I thought about it maybe being gone for good. Then, as I searched through my sewing stuff that I had been using Wednesday evening, I thought of the parables Jesus told about the lost sheep and, especially, about the lost coin.
"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.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”" (Luke 15:3-10).
I've read or heard these two stories many times. You probably have too. The emphasis is always on the rejoicing that happens in heaven over one sinner who repents, and certainly that is important. No matter what you have done, God will always welcome you and celebrate your decision to accept Jesus as your Savior.
But I haven't found my diamond yet. I am still like the woman who lit a lamp and is sweeping the house, searching carefully for her coin. Although in my case, I'm gently shaking out each article of clothing that needs to be folded, hoping my diamond fell into the pile of laundry somehow, or shaking out Nathan's comforter because I remember rearranging it over him when I tucked him into bed Wednesday night. I'm not at the rejoicing part of the story, and it has made me wonder how God feels about all those people who haven't accepted Jesus yet, all those people who are still lost. Does He get the divine equivalent of the sick feeling I had Thursday morning?
It's there in the stories after all. He tells of the shepherd leaving 99 sheep to go searching for the one that wandered off, and about the woman scouring her house for the coin. The parables may not describe much emotion, but you can imagine the frantic searching in both stories, which hints at God's feelings about each person who has not yet accepted Jesus.
And Jesus said He "came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus left Heaven to come to earth as a baby dependent on a young woman for His every need, He grew up and then offered Himself as the only possible sacrifice to redeem all of humanity and restore our relationship with God. He gave up so much to come looking for us! The time I spent searching the house for my diamond can't even come close to that. Which makes sense, of course. As valuable as a diamond may be, God considers each and every person to be so valuable there is nothing He wouldn't pay to get us back. He considers us to be worthy of the sacrifice of His Son.
No matter how worthless you may feel, or how certain you are that God would never want you, Jesus tells us differently. When we were lost, He gave up everything to come find us and when we come to Him all of heaven rejoices at our salvation.