Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
I have a keen interest in how people store items, or use filing systems which allows an item or a piece of information to be easily found when required.
If you can keep good records and are able to find them when needed then, for example, the growing list of farm inspections become less stressful. If you can arrive at a system for storing tools and equipment, then it saves a lot of time and helps to maintain a stable blood pressure – at least in my case! But, from time to time, I have lost things.
Many of you will be able to share my pain when you can’t locate the data, a tool or an animal. Something compels us to search for the lost item even when it causes major disruption to our daily routine.
Luke 15 contains stories that Jesus told about lost things: the farmer who lost a sheep, the woman who lost a coin and the father who lost a son. God cares deeply for lost animals as we see in Exodus 23:4, “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.” God cares deeply about us too, but Isaiah 53:6 says “We all like sheep have gone astray...” Like the ox, the donkey and the sheep we need someone to find us and bring us back to our Heavenly Father.
Maybe you can identify with the lost coin when you remember that £10 note falling out of your pocket on a windy day, or in the tractor, leading you to search until you’ve found it. The third item in Luke 15 that went missing was a son. We know from the news that people will go to great lengths to find a lost child - as we saw just a couple of weeks ago in Spain when workmen tried desperately to save a boy in a quarry.
When the sheep and the coin were found there were celebrations, but when the Prodigal Son returned home there were still family tensions. Today sons are still being lost from farms through family disputes. Where there has been a ‘falling out’, is there something that can be done so that a relationship with a son, or brother, can be mended?
Jesus wants us to consider if we are as keen to search for the lost son or the lost brother as we are to search for the lost sheep or the lost money? In God’s eyes people are always more precious than possessions.
Jesus talked about the lost items to remind us that we are lost people because of our sins and are far from our Heavenly Father as a result. The desire of Jesus is no different from our desire when it comes to lost things, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). As lost sinners, you and I need to be found by Jesus the Saviour. 1 Peter 2:25 says: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Are you lost, or have you been found by Christ?
Trevor Boyd is the minister of First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church in the rolling County Down countryside. Married to Barbara, the father of three is an ex-sheep breeder and previously sold animal health products across Northern Ireland.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.