Wednesday, November 07, 2018

“Found by Christ Jesus My Lord” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Found by Christ Jesus My Lord” by Beth DeCristofaro

But whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7-8)

"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents." 
(Luke 15:4-7)

You, who know our heart’s deepest longing,
You, who lit the flame of love within us,
You, who long to share of yourself,
Lord, hear our prayer. Amen 
(from “You who know our heart’s deepest longing.” CRS)[i]

The parables of the shepherd and, of course, the lost coin, were most likely startling to the hearers.  Today I must admit that it is hard for me to imagine having to go find one sheep of 99 (not even counting that I’ve never been anything like a shepherd) or tear my house inside out to find one small coin.  What do we lose today that we can’t replace?  A cell phone, the diamond out of a ring, a credit card, glasses, an iPad all can cost us a pretty penny, but we buy a new one because we “need it.”   Sometimes we even replace what we can’t afford because credit allows us to live beyond what the shepherd or the poor woman in the ancient Holy Land could possibly imagine.  When something precious – photos, memories, the jewelry our grandmother gave us, or her delicious rice pudding recipe goes missing, we learn to live without and to be distracted by many other somethings with which we surround ourselves.

We fear of loss of a good name, loss of prestige or loss of power.  The Apostle Paul would say these are all really wins should they lead us to the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.   One can lose good health due to poor choices which, with medicines and support, can allow one to find a new quality of life.  The loss at death feels irreversible but, devastating and lonely it might be, we know that we will be restored to our loved ones. A great hope and motivator of mine is, after many years as a chaplain, that even relationships can be repaired though we broke them through our own fault. 

Jesus desires to be in relation with us lost, confused, contrary sheep.  I know incompletely and “darkly” as in Paul’s mirror, what it is like to lose something irrevocably and inconsolably, but he knows fully.  He searches the hills and valleys for me, am I ready for him in those moments I am lost? Do I yearn for him in some small measure as he yearns for me, a sinner?

What might I be holding onto which, should I lose it, will bring me closer to supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord?  Am I arrogant, rigid, sanctimonious, a persecutor as was Paul?  Ask Paul to help you leave that behind on your Damascus road.

Am I able to accept just how much Christ Jesus my Lord wishes me to be in his sheepfold?  Am I trapped in believing that I am too sinful? Too deformed? Too proud? Too anything at all?

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