It’s the best way to get found.
I had never felt so lost.
I had just dropped off my best friend at the Greyhound Station in Albuquerque. I had been just fine during our two day drive from Minnesota to New Mexico. But I was not fine now. Before she disappeared into the building I begged her not to leave me there. Maybe I didn’t actually say it out loud, maybe I didn’t really make a scene, maybe she didn’t really have to pry herself loose from my grip, but my memory is colored by the great panic that overwhelmed the moment. What had I done? Why had I willingly set off into this strange land where I knew no one? Why had I agreed to this year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, doing who knows what? I was barely 21 and had never lived so far from home, what was I thinking?
I had gone and gotten myself lost.
And it felt terrible.
To be honest, it just got a lot worse before it got better. But somewhere in being lost something amazing happened. It’s not that I found my way. But the way started to find me.
A new courage found me, and I found a way to be brave.
A community found me, and I was no longer alone.
A calling found me, for that time and for a lifetime to come.
God found me, and it was nothing like I had known before.
Many of us are familiar with the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost (prodigal) son. As we hear them, we tend to focus on the joyful moment of being found—and reflect on God’s effort as well as our part in it. But none of that can come about without first getting lost.
The most wonderful encounters with God come out of those experiences of being lost. And throughout scripture God has a way of leading the people out of the familiar and pushing them into wildernesses of all sorts. We could summarize the plot of nearly every story in scripture like this: they were lost, God found them.
Sometimes we get lost without any fault of our own, like that coin. Sometimes we cannot help getting ourselves lost, like that sheep. And sometimes we just need to put common sense aside and go get ourselves lost, so God can show up and show us something great.