For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
In the law, there is a great distinction between things that are lost, mislaid, or abandoned. Additionally, we must be mindful that the possessor is not always the owner, while the owner is not always the possessor. Something that is lost involves unknowingly losing the possession. A mislaid object is something we consciously place somewhere then forget its location. We know we put it somewhere, but can’t recall exactly where. To abandon is to intentionally leave something without any intent to return to it. The purpose of the distinction is to give rights to the rightful owner. Whoever finds the abandoned is the rightful new owner. However, the original owner is generally still the owner when the found object was lost or mislaid.
Consider the rules for a “lost ball” in golf. It is deemed “lost” because we have no idea as to the ball’s exact location. We know in the general direction where it could be, but not exactly. In Luke 15:24, Jesus tells the story of the “prodigal son.” The family was surely heartbroken as it was unsure about his whereabouts or his conditions thereof. They had hoped for his safety and his return, but had nearly given up. Jesus tells us of the happy return of the seemingly “lost” son. He was dead and lost, but yet was revived back into the fellowship of the family. The father welcomed back the son with open arms. He was neither abandoned nor mislaid, but lost. He was still a son to his father. The prodigal son’s return was uncertain, but was still not forsaken by the father.
In our lost condition, we were alienated from God, His fellowship and His direction. We were spiritually dead in our trespass. We were feeding upon our own devices for survival. Thankfully, we were not abandoned. The Spirit of conviction lead us to a knowledge of our condition. Further, we were not mislaid. Our God knew exactly where we were and our condition even when we were content and satisfied with our sinful state.
Before we accepted Christ as our Savior, the world was our possessor, but not our owner. We were directed by the ways of the world, yet Christ was continually seeking us. Our “lost” condition was found and eternally transformed when Christ saved us from the “weeds” of the world. Our physically positioning may not change as we must physically abide among sin for a season, but our internal state was reborn to to righteousness. Our salvation and the uniting with the Heavenly Father through a relationship with His son merits a daily celebration. Let us give thanks daily for the provisions of our Heavenly Father. He did not and will never forsake us in our current condition.