What God Does When He Finds What He Lost

missingpic1aI remember once when my son Gabriel was about 4 years old we were in the supermarket together. Distracted with some shopping I turned for a moment to discover my boy was not there.

Any parent knows that sudden sinking feeling of a lost child!

At first it’s no big deal, “he’s probably in the next aisle” you think to yourself. But when he’s not in the next aisle…or the one after that,  panic begins to set in.

Over the next 5 minutes I ran through the store barely acknowledging the existence of other shoppers other than to ask them if they had seen a blond 4 yr. old boy with a “Blue Power Ranger” in his hand.

My heart dropped as I realized he wasn’t in the store or in the bathroom.  My eyes immediately went to the large front windows scanning the parking lot for my son among the moving cars. I didn’t see him!

The panic increased.  Boulder Colorado was a relatively safe town I thought, but a few weird things had gone on there.  My mind raced through possible horrors when suddenly I heard, “Papa”.

I turned to see my son walking toward me in front of a older gentleman who said, “This little guy looked like he was lost”  I thanked the kind man and yanked Gabriel up in the air.  I stood there for the longest time holding him in my arms, rubbing his cheek against mine, and feeling his heartbeat against my chest.

“I love you” I whispered in his ear.


“Where are you?”

Christians are often given a conflicting narrative on God’s attitude towards his children.  Yes, he loves us… but sin separates us from him because God cannot look upon sin for he is holy!



In God’s eyes, sin only makes the race to find his children more intense.

Gabriel had “disobeyed” me when he walked away from me in the supermarket. He was old enough to know that is the “wrong” thing to do.  But when I was racing through the store with a desperate desire to find him did Gabriel’s disobedience even register in my thought process?

Of course not!

I had a singular passion; to seek and find what was most precious to me…my son!

Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  So it’s not surprising that the very first words from God’s lips after Adam and Eve sinned and went missing was, “Where are you?”  

Rather than “separating”us from our father, sin instead propelled God to begin a rescue plan to find what was most precious to him…his lost children.


A Sheep, A Coin, A Son

Luke Chapter 15 starts with a bunch of “sinners” gathered to hear Jesus speak while the religious church folk are complaining about it in the background.  (Some things never seem to change)

Father and Son

Jesus tells three stories of lost objects with each story centering on a lost item of increasing importance.  First there is the lost sheep…then lost money…and finally a lost son!

All three stories convey two compelling messages Jesus wants the crowd to understand:

* The extreme lengths God will go to find something he loves but has been lost!

* The joy and celebration God has in his heart when he finds what he is looking for!

I think that second message largely gets missed by many people today and for good reason.  Much of the modern church has become like the Pharisees who stood to the side complaining as Jesus shared these stories of grace and mercy to people that needed to hear:

* that their Father loved them

* that their Father was looking for them

* and that He would celebrate rather than punish them when they came home.

The problem is the Pharisees saw value in keeping the Law…not in loving people! In contrast Jesus often flouted the law in his desire to demonstrate compassion to the people around him. (Mark 3: 1-6)   That drove the Pharisees crazy!

If Jesus walked the streets today those gathered around him to listen to him speak would include “pro-choice” advocates, gay people, minority groups, the homeless, people living with AIDs, and every other group the Western church has largely held at arms length.

And to the side would be a lot of evangelical pastors and leaders complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1)

But when a father has lost a child and he’s racing through a supermarket to find him, he’s not going to let anything, let alone religious nonsense, get in the way of finding what he loves most.





  • Madhavan Gunalan

    Excellent. I could see and sense the Father’s heart longing for his children. Thanks, for sharing your experience when you lost your son in supermarket. Simply explained. Wonderful message. You are a blessing.

    • Steve

      Thanks Madhaven! Very kind

  • Chuck

    Yes Steven, when I came to Jesus 32 years ago, I was always looking to the Lord to see If I was pleasing to him. When I finally saw the Grace God had for me the scripture came to light to me. Whom the son sets free is free indeed. How can you put conditions on love when it’s unconditional? Thank you Jesus!

    • Steve

      Chuck, my guess is we assume deep down God’s love is conditional because we project our ways on to God…and His ways are not ours. Bless you!

  • Chuck

    Yes It’s like when I hear People talk that the grace message gives you a license to sin.I realize more and more the power of Grace. Talking about sin and what you need to do tells me they don’t know what Jesus really accomplished at the Cross. When he said it’s finished and understanding more and more what was finished, sends praise in my heart. God loves me unconditional. Jesus paid a debt I could not pay. It’s like paying for car that’s been paid for and still making payments on it. Believe me the devil will still take those payment and keep you bound by saying you still owe. Trusting in the finished work. Realizing his love for me causes me to lay down sin and gives me a Righteousness mindset instead of a sin mindset. The Goodness of God leads a man to repentance. Just let God be God!

  • Bob

    Great words Steve. This side of heaven we will never fully grasp or appreciate grace, but thanks to friends like you who illustrate it so well, we can have a glimpse. And just what I needed today. Thanks.

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