Create by: Hungsu Lim December 15, 2015 at 12:22 pm
[Advent Devotion] Day 14 “God With Us” in Times of Rejoicing
“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.” (Luke 15:4-7 NIV)
I have had a number of good dogs in my life, all of whom I have loved. Bu my current dog is something special. His name is Karl, and he’s a Shepherd / Lab mix that we rescued. He’s friendly, sweet, super smart, obedient, great with kids, submissive (in a good way), and gentle. He tries to befriend even the fussiest of dogs. To give you an idea of what an extraordinary dog he is, my close friend who is a vet remarks that Karl is one of the three best dogs he has ever met.
Toward the end of the day, Karl makes his way to the front door, waiting for the rumble of my truck to come toward the house. When he hears it, he squeaks with delight. Once I’m home, he rarely leaves my side; he’s my shadow wherever I go. If these reasons weren’t enough for me to love him, Karl is the only living being in my house that actually listens to me. That’s a joke – kind of.
Did I mention that I love this dog?
One morning I woke up particularly early, and something was different. Karl was not sitting at my feet trying to lick me. He wasn’t banging the wall with his wagging tail. He was nowhere to be found. He was lost.
I replayed in my mind the prior evening, reconstructing what must have happened. My heart sank as I recalled that at 11:00PM. I went out to my truck without closing the house door behind me. Karl must have followed me out of the house. I went back into the house not knowing that he was outside.
When I came to that realization, I searched the house inside and out. We contacted neighbors and animal services. We posted a notice on social media. We posted flyers throughout the neighborhood. As I was stapling a flyer on a telephone pole, I was overcome with the notion that I might not see Karl again. It was an emotional moment.
I just wasn’t going to give up. So I combed the neighborhood on a bicycle, calling out his name. Then I drove around in the car. I returned to the house mentally and emotionally exhausted.
As I was walking up to our front door, I was overcome. There was Karl. Thankfully, someone in the neighborhood had returned him. There aren’t words to express the joy and gratitude that I experienced in that moment! Somehow having lost him deepened my experience of having him back. And when I shared the news with family, neighbors, the online community, and even strangers, they all celebrated. The joy of finding Karl had a ripple effect.
In a small way, losing Karl, searching Karl, finding Karl, and rejoicing over having Karl again is similar to the story of the lost sheep in today’s Scripture. Jesus is the loving shepherd who will go to any lengths to find one of his sheep. And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, takes it home, and throws a party!
Sometimes we are like the lost sheep, and Jesus searches for us and rejoices when we are found. Other times we are like the shepherd; we are the one throwing a party when we have great cause for rejoicing. Either way, Jesus is there in the midst of the joy. He rejoices for us, and rejoices with us.
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this Christmas, may we remember that he is “God with us” in times of rejoicing.
PRAYER: God of searching love, today I pray for the parts of me that have gone astray and for the people in my life who seem to be lost and hurting. I give thanks that you not only search for us until you find us; you throw a party when we are found! And I give thanks that when we are filled with joy, you celebrate with us. Thank you for being “God with us” in times of rejoicing. Amen.
(from “SENT: Devotion” Week 3 – Jesus is God with Us by Justin LaRosa)
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