(Jesus said) "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:6-7
Please Note: The story upon which this devotion is based is painful. Those Daily Devotioners who normally use these devotions with children or young people should review the material first. If you decide to use it, please also include a review of what a child should and shouldn't do with any adult. Thank you, Pastor Klaus
The operation was a success, but the patient died. That expression means everything which could be done had been done, and done rightly. Still, all our efforts were simply not enough to save.
That was the case a few weeks ago in Springfield, Missouri, when ten-year-old Hailey Owens was kidnapped a block away from her home. Owens was stopped by a man in a truck who asked her for directions. Owens did right and walked away. She did right in keeping her distance, but she didn't stay far enough away from the man who would be her murderer. Eyewitnesses say he "lunged out of the vehicle ... and threw her into the truck like a rag doll." Some spectators ran after the truck, another tried to follow in his car, and still others called the police who issued an Amber Alert.
Owens' murderer was eventually found. Speaking to the media, the prosecutor said the community had responded remarkably, and everything which could have been done had been done. Sadly, the operation had been a success, but ....
When I was a pastor in the parish, I saw many such instances.
No, none of our congregation's children were ever physically kidnapped, but there were many who were spiritually stolen. These were children whose parents had brought them to church and Sunday school, who had had home devotions, and done all they could to share their faith within the family.
But then something happened.
Maybe the children got in with an unbelieving crowd, or a skeptical teacher had a terrible influence, or the youngsters felt themselves too sophisticated for Jesus. No matter the cause, they were gone.
When the crime became apparent, family and friends rallied together and tried to bring back their loved one. They prayed, they witnessed, they shared, and then they prayed some more. But their loved one remained lost. And they, like the community of Springfield, Missouri, wondered, "What could we have done differently? What could have prevented this tragedy?"
The answer is sadly simple: our children have the free will to walk away from the Lord, if they wish. No matter what God and family may want, it sometimes happens that our children forget Jesus, which is very discouraging. Still, as long as those children are on earth, there is hope. In the past, the Holy Spirit has brought back many wandering lambs, and He will do so in the future.
This is why this devotion encourages you to keep up the prayers, keep up the sharing, and let the Savior's salvation story shine through your love.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we pray for our children. Keep them safe from the devil, the world, and themselves. For those who are wandering, let the Holy Spirit do that which will bring them back. This we pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries