When You Are Lost And Do Not Know It
Being lost is a terrifying experience. A person’s head spins as panic creeps up, shouting threats like, “You’ll never find your way!” or “It’s impossible!” Fear clutches at you.
Several strange things are true about being lost. One is that we can think we really aren’t when we are. Sincerity is no guarantee we’re on the right road. Furthermore, we don’t have to be alone to be lost. We can be surrounded by a lot of folks—even a large group of nice people—and be totally off track. Running faster doesn’t help, either. Speed, like sincerity, is no friend to the bewildered.
We can’t trust our feelings or our hunches to solve our dilemma. We need help from something or someone outside ourselves. A map. A person who knows the way. Whatever or whoever . . . we must have accurate assistance.
One of the terms the Bible uses to describe people who don’t know God in a personal and meaningful manner is “lost.” That doesn’t necessarily mean they are immoral or lawless or bad neighbors or emotionally unstable or irresponsible or even unfriendly folks. Just lost. They may even feel good about themselves—confident, secure, enthusiastic . . . yet still lost. Physically active and healthy, yet spiritually off track. Sincerely deluded. Unconsciously moving through life and out of touch with the One who made them. Disconnected from the living God.
Take a close look at this statement I’ve copied from the old, reliable book of Proverbs in the Bible.
There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Isn’t that penetrating? The “way” a person is going through life may seem right. It may also have the approval and admiration of other rather influential individuals. But its end result is the ultimate dead-end street.
All this reminds me of a true yet tragic World War II story. The Lady-Be-Good was a bomber whose crew was a well-seasoned flight team, a group of intelligent and combat-ready airmen. After a successful bombing mission, they were returning to home base late one night. In front of the pilot and copilot was a panel of instruments and radar equipment they had to rely on to reach their final destination. They had made the flight many times before, so they knew about how long it took to return.
But this flight was different. Unaware of a strong tailwind that pushed the bomber much more rapidly through the night air than usual, the men in the cockpit looked in amazement at their instruments as they correctly signaled it was time to land.
The crew, however, refused to believe those accurate dials and gauges. Confident that they were still miles away from home, they kept flying and hoping, looking intently for those familiar lights below. The fuel supply was finally depleted. The big olive drab bomber never made it back. It was found deep in the desert many miles farther and many days later. Its fine crew had all perished, having overshot the field by a great distance . . . because they followed the promptings of their own feelings, which “seemed right” but proved wrong. Dead wrong.
What happened in the air back in the early 1940s is happening in principle every day on earth. There are good, sincere, well-meaning, intelligent people traveling on a collision course with death, yet totally unaware of their destiny. That’s why we read that Jesus, God’s great Son, came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). His coming to earth was God’s seek-and-save mission designed to help those who are lost find the right way home.
That needs some explanation.
Think of the Bible as the absolutely reliable instrument panel designed to get people (and to keep people) on the right track. We won’t be confused if we believe its signals and respond to its directions, even though we may not “feel” in agreement at times. In this Book we find a bold yet true statement:
God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:11–13
Read that again, this time a little more slowly and, if possible, aloud.
Take this truth to heart. Are you lost?