Garrett K.

from KS
Story #582
Something was missing in my life. I searched for years to find out what it was. I believed that I could fill that void with sports, relationships, or even work. Those worldly 'fillers' lasted, but only temporarily, leaving space after the immediate rush for the empty feeling to return. My life had become an endless search for satisfaction, meaning, belonging, and love.

In college, I thought I'd found that missing piece. I had great friends. I was in a ‘good’ relationship. I was a leader at my university in several different student organizations. People wanted to be around me, chose to be. Being popular fed my quest for meaning yet in all the wrong ways. To be popular at my University, I thought I had to be involved in one avenue: attending and throwing parties. Three to four nights a week, I partied and partied hard. I often got so drunk that in the morning when I woke up, I couldn't remember what had happened the previous night. I loved to put on parties where hundreds of people attended, mostly with the intent of having people know me and like me. I thought that I had found what was missing from my life.

Then something happened, a moment that changed everything including the trajectory of my life's path. I became sick. At first, my symptoms had all the attributes of a simple, common cold. However, a few weeks into the illness, I began to believe that it was more than just a cold. I saw several different doctors to address the issue, hoping they would discover what was wrong. No doctor seemed to find out what was wrong. However, a doctor in Nebraska finally took the time to ask me some specific questions. I initially lied to him about the amount of alcohol I'd been drinking, unwilling to reveal the truth. He asked me, "Son, I know what's wrong. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" I asked him to deliver the bad news, and he proceeded to tell me that at twenty-one years old, my liver was failing. He added that if I wanted to live longer, I would have to stop consuming alcohol altogether.

Of all the possible problems that my body was experiencing, hearing that my liver was failing was the last problem I would have guessed. Despite my unhealthy appetite for alcohol and extended nights of drinking to excess, I still couldn't understand how this could happen to me. Because I did not want to die, I made the decision to quit drinking then and there. This choice caused the life that I had lived before to nearly instantaneously crumble around me. Back in school, the people who I'd thought were my best friends quickly moved on without a thought about my situation. Despite the years and time we'd spent together, it was as if no one cared. There were even times when those once-were-friends would actually make fun of my new decision not to drink.

The life I had built was destroyed. I was undeniably lost. In Luke 15, as Jesus sat amongst people who questioned his company, he began telling parables about things that were lost. He told a story of a wandering sheep who left behind the entire herd. Then, he shared a story about a missing coin that is extremely valuable to a woman who couldn't seem to find it. Finally, in the last story, he told of a lost son who loses everything.

Jesus contrasts the first two stories with the last one to make a point about who he is. In the last parable, when the son leaves his home and lives a life of wild living, no one goes out in search of him. We see in all these parables that God has the heart for the lost. He desires to restore people who have been misplaced, overlooked, wandered off, and even those who have squandered everything. Jesus, himself, is the shepherd, searching for the wandering sheep. He seeks out people who are valuable to him, more valuable than a sheep or a coin.

Not only does God come looking for us, but when he finds us, he throws a celebration for what was once lost has now been found. Just as with the first two parables, Jesus came and found me. I wasn't searching for him because I thought I already had him. Knew him. But he found me and understood that I needed to be found. In the midst of my struggles, I encountered the open arms of God in a way that would forever change me.

I believe that if you are lost, Jesus is on a search to find you. Despite our brokenness and inability to find God on our own, he sent his son on a mission to find us. Jesus came to earth to repair the relationship that was broken between humanity and himself. That's why he died on the cross. It's why he was raised from the dead three days later. He is on a mission to find what is lost, and he has invited us all into a relationship with him.

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