Friday, October 24, 2008

#13 Lost Along the River

"I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick;" Ezekiel 34:16

One of my most favorite past times is to go backpacking and hiking. I love the smell of fresh air and the joy that comes from spending time in nature with friends. Back in North Carolina there is a place called the Linville Gorge. It is a river gorge that feeds into Lake James near Morganton, NC. The Linville Gorge is about 15 miles long and winds back and forth along the river. My friends and I would take a long weekend and hike down the gorge with minimal camping supplies. Sometimes Ginger's uncles and cousins would go and we would have a great time. One year we decided to go down the gorge and the ones who normally led the way were not able to go with us. We did not think it would be a big deal so we decided to go on our own and have a good time like normal.

Everything started off fairly well but we soon realize that we were not on the trail that we were accustomed to being on. In fact, we were way off the beaten path. The bad part is that we did not realize this until we had been hiking for about 4 hours. That meant that we had to try to get back on the path from a point that we were not familiar with. You must understand that the gorge area is not flatland. It is very steep in most places and it is very wearisome to walk up hill with 50 pounds of gear and food on your back. Needless to say we became very tired and really just wanted to find somewhere to stop for the evening. I wish I could tell you that it got better, but it got worse before that happened.

At one point we came to a portion of the wrong trail that went nearly straight down. As one of my buddies started down the hill he lost his footing and went tumbling down the hill. When he skidded to a stop at the bottom his knee jammed into a rock outcropping and injured his knee. He could still walk on it but he was not able to carry his pack and walk too. So we each took part of his load and distributed it among the rest of the group. We finally made our way out to the road and found a roadside campsite where we could bed down for the night. I have been tired many times in my life, but there are only a few times that I can remember rest being so sweet as it was that night. Truly, we were happy to have found our way out of the forest, and the next time we considered going hiking we made sure to have someone to guide us on our way.

Friends, tonight I just wonder how many of us feel lost in this world because we thought we too knew the way we should go. Maybe there will be some who read this and say, "I am not lost." Perhaps you are not lost in the sense that you know Jesus, but perhaps you have decisions to make in your life and you need guidance from on high today. Perhaps as you look forward the future does not look as bright as it once did and you sense a need to turn everything over to Jesus. I know beyond any doubt that Jesus longs to give each of us guidance so that we can feel safe and secure in this world of turmoil and I just pray that you would consider the areas that you need to turn over to Jesus.

In our key passage we see through the prophet Ezekiel that God is seeking the lost. We are told that He wants to bring back the scattered and bind up the broken while He strengthens the sick. Maybe today friend you are among the scattered that know the truth of Jesus, but you have turned away from it. Maybe you were baptized and then for some reason you let friends or family discourage you from following Jesus completely. I pray that today will be the day that choose to let God bring you home and bind your wounds.

Dear Father,
I pray that You will never give up calling us to come to You. I pray that we would be willing to surrender completely to You and allow You to bind up our emotional and spiritual wounds. Dear Lord there are far too many who have allowed themselves to become scattered from Your flock. May Your Holy Spirit continue to press on the hearts and minds of each of us until we all come home to You. We pray in the blessed name of Jesus just now, Amen.

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