Cross and Caduceus: Lost

I am troubled when I lose things. I remember searching a shopping mall in Indiana once, because my little girl lost a tiny toy doll and was upset. My wife and I looked about to no avail, and went back to the room. My little one was none the worse, but I was annoyed. When they were little, we always traveled with toys. And every hotel we left was thoroughly scoured for small items tucked into drawers or under beds, easily forgotten.

Edwin Leap

Once, when we had traded a family car, I went through the storage area in the back only to find my son’s long-lost camera, right before the car was taken away! I lost my keys for several months once, after I became angry and threw them into a cluttered room. (Yes, it was childish.)

I have lost photos and money, computer files and contact information. I have lost time, and I have lost opportunity. Those are among the worst. But not so bad as lost pulses, lost breath sounds; lost lives. Medicine is a thing where loss is common, and I have seen it over and over. I have spoken to the husbands, wives, parents and children of those lost to addiction, disease or accident. Loss is painful. No, painful isn’t right. Loss is devastating.

Loss is everywhere. And it isn’t just a matter of death. It’s lost relationships, lost hope, loss of self, loss of time. But to us, as believers in Christ, it’s lost souls that should matter. When our own lost souls find their way home, we are called to find others.

We talk about that a lot, don’t we?. Finding the lost. Witnessing to the lost. We have programs and scripts, we have revivals and testimonies. But sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of what that whole idea of “lost” really means.

For us to be passionate about the lost, they have to matter. If you lose a $100 bill, you look for it, just as Jesus said about the woman who lost a coin in her home. A thing we really consider lost is important. No one “loses” a kidney stone. Nobody “loses” a hangnail. We lose what we treasure. There’s even the term “lost treasure,” isn’t there? The things that matter are the things we search to find.

So we can only seek to find the lost when two things occur to us. One, that it is possible to be lost. In our post-faith world, we seem to feel that “lost” is an archaic term. No one is lost, everyone is simply “on their own path.” There is, to the modern mind, no proper place to be, no absolutely correct thing to believe. And so, no one can actually be lost. We know different. We know all around us is a world in which souls are lost and in dire need of rescue parties, composed of, well, us! Parties to go and bring them in with the calling and power of Christ.

But the second thing necessary is that we believe them to be valuable. This is not easy. The lost are often transformed by their time in the wilderness. They forget that they are lost. They become frustrated, or angry. They become a little wild, and sometimes forget that they want to be found. Only the love of the Savior who found us can change our hearts, and transform the lost into treasure in our own hearts, as we become like Him.

Think about something that matters. Your wedding ring. Your job. Worse, your child, your spouse or parent. Think about losing that thing, that person, not for a while, but forever. Then remember that the feeling is a dim reflection of God’s heartache, sent down to us over the ages. Jesus said that he came “to seek and to save that which is lost.” Of course, He didn’t lose us. We lost Him. We wandered away. We abandoned home. More than errant stray pets, more than children suddenly grown wise who left, we were children who left our Father in spite and anger and self-aggrandizement. We “got lost” somewhere in the long history of time – and we remain lost until we respond to His call through the forest, through the brambles, through the ages, to “come home.”

As we go out to seek the lost, we must remember that they are not numbers. They are not “baptisms” or “memberships.” They are lost treasure. And our Father finds great joy in every single one recovered.


– Leap is an emergency physician and columnist who lives with his wife and four children in Walhalla.