When I was 16 I was sent on an errand. I was supposed to drive from Ephrata to Longview, pick up a transmission and drive back home. Simple plan. Against the advice of my elders I chose to take White Pass. They recommended Interstate 90 and Snoqualmie pass. I had gone over Hiway 12 and Whites Pass 3 years before and liked the view. I chose white pass.
I didn’t remember a left turn. After Natches there is a big, well marked left turn. I didn’t take a left turn. So Hiway 12 turned into Hiway 410 without me even noticing.
I continued on my way and soon the road became unfamiliar. “A lot has changed since I was here last” I thought to myself. Blissfully unaware I drove the cascade mountains and I arrived in Enumclaw. I stopped at a store to exchange fluids. I bought some and left some. The woman behind the counter asked about my journey. I told her I was headed to Longview. She asked, “do you know where you are?”
I confidently replied in the affirmative. I asked “which way to the freeway?”
She snickered and told me to just keep going and watch for the signs.
I didn’t ask for specific directions because I thought I knew where I was. I know now what I didn’t know then. I was LOST!
I tell this story for one reason.
We can’t get help unless we first know that we need help. We can’t be found until we first know that we are lost.
I have some bad news for mankind. We are all lost. From conception we are lost and estranged from God.
“9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”’
This is not good news. This news can be turned around though.
Here is the good news!
For the Son of Man (Jesus)came to seek and to save the lost.”
To be saved, to be found by Jesus the first step is the same for each one of us, we have admit that we are lost. We cannot find our way back to God on our own. Our only hope is to accept Jesus’ help. His death pays our debt of sin and his resurrection shows that he is the way to eternal life.
I could not get to Longview through Enumclaw without a drastic course correction. I had to turn. Enumclaw is about midway on the I-5 corridor between the northern border of Washington state and the the southern border. To show how lost I was, Longview, my destination borders the Columbia river and Washington’s southern border. I was L-O-S-T lost.
At that very same time as a teenager, I was in a search for God. I knew I was a sinner and so I was in the constant cycle of sinning and trying to be good enough to outweigh the sin. But I would fail and sin some more. In my spiritual life I also had to change course. I had to repent which is a fancy way of saying I must turn around. I was in a Spiritual Enumclaw but I thought I was heading towards my spiritual Longview.
I think one of the best examples of a person turning around, repenting, is the story of the prodigal son. Jesus tells the story in Luke 15. To shorten the tale, the younger of two sons tells his dad in so many words, I can’t wait for you to die so I can get my inheritance so I will just cash out now. The dad agrees, gives his son the money and the son leaves and squanders it all on a loose partying lifestyle. He ends up broke and friendless, feeding pigs, the lowest job imaginable.
But then a light dawns, “15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:15-24 –
My story has many almost aha moments, where I almost see the light but then early one Sunday morning after leaving college and a pastoral ministry degree path which I thought was how I would my way into Gods approval, i was mentally fretting about if i wasn’t going to become a pastor how i could ever earn Gods love but just then the words of a couple of verses in Ephesians came into my mind and I finally understood them.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 –
God my father had been watching and waiting for that moment and just like in the prodigal son story he ran to me ,”But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
I was welcomed home.
When I was lost in Enumclaw, I couldn’t get where I was going until I realized I was going the wrong way. I did finally figure it out and I found the southbound interstate 5 and got to Longview, but not before going through a torrential downpour, both outside the truck cab and down my face as I bawled my eyes out.
If on your life’s spiritual journey you have found yourself anywhere but at the feet of Jesus then you are lost. Jesus said that he is the way to the Father.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 –
The most important part of this story, the part that I want to stress , is that I was lost but I didn’t know it. I had missed a turn and ended up miles from my destination but I didn’t know it. That was also true of my spiritual journey in life. I thought I was on the right path, trying earn my way to God.
There are many ways to get to Longview, I found a very long and circuitous way. But there is only one way to God our father and that is through his son Jesus. Jesus came to earth to live a perfect human life and then die the death that We deserve, he took our place, he took my place.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:16-18 –
Jesus came to save us. Jesus came to be the way to the Father.
Where are you today? What destination are you headed to? I can tell you how to get to Longview, I can also tell you how to go home to a Father who loves you, who loves us, and that way is through Jesus.