We’ve all been lost, whether on city streets or country roads. Some of us would rather keep driving than stop and get directions or admit we don’t know how to get there. All of us have been lost spiritually at some time. We end up in a dark place, we make a poor decision, a problem gets the best of us and we can’t see our way forward. We can feel lost from God, even, far from our spiritual center. How can such moments be a gift? The last thing we want is to be lost or stay lost! Perhaps it is in our moments of being lost that we discover something important about our own limits. Perhaps we realize we need more help from God and others and cannot simply rely on our own expertise, competence and experience. We can get lost when we find ourselves facing a situation we have not encountered before. We don’t easily see a path through it.

I think of some of the biblical stories of people who were lost: the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years; King Saul as he struggled with his mental illness, leadership and God’s loss of confidence in him. I think of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son and loving father. Perhaps in being lost, it is a time to look for God’s guidance in a different way. Perhaps we ask different questions, or look to see if God is telling us something we might ordinarily miss. God sends people to help us find our way or help us come to our senses. We learn a deeper dependence on God. We learn to stop moving and start listening, focusing on what’s important or how God may be speaking to us in a different way. This week in worship, we look at the story of the old priest Eli and Samuel, a young boy helping with sacred responsibilities in the temple. God calls him in the night and he must learn how to respond. His spiritual inexperience requires some learning and an openness to trust in God. Sunday, we worship God who can never lose us and never gives up trying to find us.

Dr. Dave Summers, Senior Pastor
Paradise Valley United Methodist Church
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During Lent we are doing a worship series on the Gifts of the Dark Wood and exploring how times of difficulty and failure become places that reveal insights to us about ourselves and our beliefs. Instead of living our lives trying to avoid the dark places, we learn to see and receive their gifts to us. Uncertainty abounds in our world, given the realities of economics, politics, terrorism, and our increasingly fragile planet. We want to cultivate a strong and durable trust in God as we face uncertain times. We want to discover a way to receive and understand the insights from uncertainty as life unfolds for us. Join us Sunday for our Lenten worship series and the gifts that will come to each of us as we journey to the cross and Easter Sunday.

Read More about Gifts of the Dark Wood and the Lenten season at PVUMC.

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