Lord, Send Me To Rescue The One!
“Send Me” Means Reaching Out to the Lost
It’s so natural, after being rescued, to simply go back to your life, to business-as-usual. After a harrowing experience, you’re yearning for normalcy. You want to—and sometimes do—forget that hopeless, horrifying moment of being forgotten in darkness. Going back there to warn others is hard work—and trying to rescue others in those perilous places sounds risky. That, I believe, is why Jesus told story after story about how easy it is to be lost—and how remarkable it is to be saved. Stories of people hopeless and hurting. People who need living water, people whose souls are tattered, with the dark closing in around them and time running out.
In Luke’s gospel, chapter 15, he tells of a lost sheep—and then, as if he sensed we’d miss the message, he tells of a lost coin, and then of a lost son. These stories, he says, will remind you of something I want you always to remember: No matter how deep the pit or dark the night, I will always look for you and rescue you because I love you with an everlasting love. You are precious to me. Even when you mess up, even when you’re careless or mistaken or afraid or broken or weak, I still love you. Even when you are incapable of doing anything for anyone, including yourself, I still love you. And just as I come for you, I come for all those who have made mistakes, and those who are overlooked, for those devalued and despised. I come for all the wrong people—the careless and uncared for, the merry and miserable.
“Send Me” Means Looking for the Lost, Even if It Is Only One Person
If you have one hundred sheep and one wonders off, Jesus tells us, that’s the one you go after to rescue. Isn’t the one as valuable as each of the ninety-nine? In natural disasters and in time of war, medical personnel often perform something they call triage. It means that they examine the injured and determine which have the best chance of living. They concentrate their efforts on those they think they can save—and, with regret, allow the others to die, or perhaps to rally and recover on their own. Jesus doesn’t do triage. He leaves the healthy ninety-nine safe in their pen while he goes out into the night looking for the one who’s lost, sick, depressed, disappointed, wounded, enslaved. And when he has found it, he lays it across his shoulders and in celebration calls together his neighbors, saying, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep” (Luke 15:6).
How could an almighty God do any less? Can you imagine what his message to us would be otherwise? “I’ll come after you and save you—if I’m not too busy saving others, and if my attention isn’t needed keeping the ninety-nine others safe. After all, you probably got into this mess yourself, and it wouldn’t be fair to deprive the others, who are being good, of my time and attention just to keep coming after you. I’ll help you if circumstances allow. Otherwise, you’re on your own.” Never in Scripture does Jesus give a message anything like this. Instead, he promises to come after the one, because each one is precious to him. Each one.
“Send Me” Means Seeking the Lost—Even if We Fear Them
It’s true—many of us fear the lost, and because of that, we’re reluctant to go out into the world to seek them. Why would we fear the lost? Many reasons. Maybe because, often, they’re so needy and desperate. We’re afraid that they will attach themselves to us, leech-like, and beg for one thing after another: our time, our money, our emotional support, a place in our home (“just until I get back on my feet”), a ride to work—and on and on. There are so many like we, too, were once. That’s what he wants us to remember. We, too, once were lost and now are found. And because we’ve been found, we are part of his search-and-rescue team. The light we craved once, the light he brought to us to illuminate our own rescue, is what he sends us back into the dark to carry.
“You are the light of the world,” he says (Matthew 5:14). You have what it takes to bring home my precious ones—you have me. When you walk with me, you shine—because whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Just as I helped you, in turn, you can help others.
If I’m ever tempted to lose sight of what a sacred privilege it is to be sent out by God to find and rescue his lost sheep, I just remember what urgency and panic I would feel if it was my own child who was lost.