Debbie Salter Goodwin
When the End is the Beginning
I thought I lost my passport a few days before our flight to London. Panic squeezed my heart dry. I revisited every room, closet, and drawer where I had been collecting for packing. No luck. Already I dreaded the consequence of my negligence.
Then, I remembered the trash I took out. Could I really have thrown it away? I opened the lid of the trash bin, located scattered trash I had just deposited, and there it was—navy blue peeking behind refuse. I wanted to throw a party. However, did I really want to announce my irresponsibility? Instead, I had a party in my heart that day. Finding what was lost saved me from a tug-of-war with the State Department I may not have won in time. What I feared would lead to the end of our trip, actually became my new beginning!
Jesus builds an interesting progress with his stories of lost things. He shows us the woman’s panic over the lost coin, the shepherd’s distress with a missing sheep, and the son’s desperation when he recognized his true predicament. Jesus did not focus on finding strategies; he focused on the crisis because something or someone was lost.
The climax comes in the reunion and the celebration it brought. Who celebrates? The lost coin didn’t celebrate. The sheep probably didn’t recognize the trouble his wandering caused. And the son is feeling undeserving and maybe a bit embarrassed over all the attention.
No, these stories make an interesting turn. The climax becomes the reunion and focuses on the one who lost something. The end of each story is a beginning. The woman will be more careful. The shepherd will be more observant. But when we come to the father, the father will never stop celebrating his son’s homecoming. Not ever.
We all have a story of lostness. It is a unique history of being in the wrong place and not recognizing it. Like the lost son, we refused to recognize that without God we lived like pigs with scraps.
To be found, we must recognize that God’s arms and heart always open for us. We must believe that God welcomes us no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. Whatever brings us home, it is God’s running toward us that helps us find our way back.
The end of the story is the beginning.
Our stories of being found begins a party that never stops. That’s when angels sing and God smiles and Eden feels possible again. The big question is always, how do we keep celebrating God’s welcome home?
Where are your endings in the story you are living? Can you see the threads of a beginning? Life ordered by God never leads to dead ends, always a new beginning.
Where is yours?
If you want to take the story deeper, here's a five minute Bible study for you:
Review Luke 15:1-24
Then, answer the following questions based on what you already do or what you need God's help to do.
1. How does this verse to help us develop the Good Shepherd’s heart?
I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. NLT
2. What warning do you hear in this verse?
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. NLT
3. How might you use this verse to find your part in God’s mission?
Luke 19: 10
How For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. NLT
4. How will you talk to someone who has lost their way to God?
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. NLT
5. What is God preparing in your ending?
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
If you want to download this as a 2-page worksheet, click here:
pictures-Geralt, Jez Timms from Unsplash