My grandfather’s name was Russell, but to his grandchildren he was Russy. Going to Sears with my grandfather rated in my book. He believed they had the best of all things mechanical because they guaranteed their tools for life. On one particular outing, as he scanned the shelves for some sort of gadget, my four-year-old eyes wandered to the shelf behind him. We both looked intently for a while at all the eye candy. Then I backed toward him, reached up, and grabbed his hand. It didn’t take long for me to decide there was something unfamiliar about the way he held my hand, so I looked up. Smiling down at me was a very kind face – but it was not the man I knew and loved. I was mortified. My grandfather stood next to him and had seen the whole thing. They both laughed at my mistake and I was gathered into the arms of my Russy. All was well.
Fast forward about twenty years to a Tennessee department store. As Ron and I shopped intently, our three-year-old Jennifer slipped off. Then came, “Where’s Jennifer?” “I thought you had her.” “Well, I thought you had her.” Panic suddenly circulated though our bodies with every quickened beat of our heart. We enlisted salesclerks to help us in our search. Jennifer’s name echoed across the store. Then I spotted the sporting goods section of the store and my mama spidey senses surged. I hurried over and sure enough there was Miss Priss on the exercise equipment having a good ol’ time, completely oblivious to being separated from us.
A few years later when her brother Jarrod got lost it was a whole different ballgame. He didn’t just slip off by accident, he did it on purpose. I got a call at school, thankfully during my planning time, that Jarrod’s grandmother could not find him and she was frantic. I hurried to her house but this time my spidey senses told me not to panic. Ron’s mom began telling me she had looked inside and out and couldn’t find him anywhere. I walked into the kitchen and yelled, “Jarrod Wayne Jackson if you don’t come here right now you’re in big trouble.” Wouldn’t you know, he began slithering out from between the cabinet and the refrigerator. Every time his grandmother changed locations in her search, so would he. He thought it was funny – until Mom got there. Let’s just say he still pulled a few stunts, but he never tried that again.
Today, there are many lost souls wandering around. Some are lost because they’ve latched onto someone or something other than Jesus. They may have chosen to trust in Buddha or Mohammad rather than Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Religious rule-keepers may have their hands so full they don’t have an empty one left for Jesus. Other lost souls may be so caught up in seeking pleasure, fame, or fortune that they don’t even realize they are lost. They may know something isn’t quite right, but they’ve become used to the treadmill and aren’t sure how to get off safely. Then there are those who know they are lost and don’t want to be found. They’ve been hiding from God all their lives. They see Him as a joke or a relentless taskmaster rather than a loving Father who stands ready to gather them into His arms offering freedom, mercy, and grace.
I know most of you reading this are believers, but there’s a chance some of you may fall into one of these three categories. (There may be only one that God wanted me to write this for. If it’s you, you’re not reading this by coincidence.) Just know that God loves you. He wants to walk beside you – not tugging or prodding. Just with you. Actually, becoming a believing-in-Jesus follower allows you access to the most powerful force available – the Holy Spirit. He will take up residence in you so that you want to hold tightly to the hand of Jesus. He will help you stay focused on living a God-honoring life so you can escape the it’s-all-about-me treadmill. But most of all, He will pour grace all over your past sins. You get to start over. Realizing the love he has lavished on you will cause you to want to share that love with others. You’ll want Him to take charge of your day-to-day plans so others can see the difference He’s made in your life. Your eyes will be opened to people He puts in your path so you can tell them about His great love and grace.
One last story for those of us who do believe. Many years ago, our youth minister took a group of boys down the backside of our farm for an overnight campout. My son wanted to go, but he had a basketball game that night. Ron and I decided we would be okay with him going down there in the pitch-black dark if we took him down there. My two guys know that land like the backside of their hand, but the moonless night made it seem as though we wore black velvet blindfolds. Armed with two flashlights, off we went. Ron insisted that I keep my flashlight turned off. He said, “Just follow my light. If my batteries get low, we’ll have yours as a backup. If we don’t have a light we’ll never get out of here.”
Sometimes my light may appear dim when surrounded by trouble. When and if you ever notice that, God expects you to shine your light on our path until my batteries recharge. Not in my face or yours, but on the path that leads to Him. We need each other. God not only wants fellowship with us, but He wants us to fellowship each other. Imagine the glow we would emit if ALL Jesus believers – no matter the tribe – chose to direct their beams of light on the same road, filling life’s potholes with the perfection of Jesus as we walked together.
If Jesus came back today, who would you want to share your light with? Go. Shine.
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7, NIV