A Problem Shared

‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” ‘

Luke 15 vs 1-6: NIV

Whilst on vacation in Scotland a few months ago, I spent a day at Dean Castle – a beautiful place with a huge park, mini forest, and several miniature zoos. And if there’s one thing all the children of my late father have in common, it is our passion for long walks. So, as a true son of my father, I decided to walk through the whole park; a venture which probably took about three /four hours. It really was the most wonderful day.

However, the final hour wasn’t so much a leisurely walk as a somewhat flustered jog that inevitably turned into a frantic dash for the exit.

Unknown to me, the park shuts at 4pm, so it was with shock and horror that I read the opening and closing times sign in….well……. the middle of nowhere. I had absolutely no idea where I was or how to get out. I always say getting lost whilst on vacation is part of the fun of being on holiday, but on this occasion, I was positively petrified. As I hurriedly ran one way, and then another, before returning to precisely where I started from about forty minutes later, I began to mentally prepare myself for the eventuality of having to spend the night in the park as a result of not being able to get out on time. Sounds absurd? Of-course it does. But that is usually how the mind works when it senses trouble or danger. All of a sudden, logic, reasoning and hope are not only futile delusions but utterly absurd in nature.

The more minutes passed the more elusive that exit-gate became. Convinced I wouldn’t make it out on time, I was consumed  by the terrifying thought of having to spend the night in the forest – no doubt doomed to be torn to pieces by a ferocious beast of sorts.

Just as I’m sure it was for that lost sheep, in my mind, the possibility of finding my way back to a safe and happy place grew less and less likely with each passing second; to the point of almost giving-in all-together.

When one gets lost, the mind has a peculiar way of magnifying an unfortunate situation to one of seemingly insurmountable odds. And the main reason for this is because one is alone in one’s thoughts.

But the reality is you are never as lost as you think. Contrary to what your mind may be saying, you are loved by God just as much today as you’ve always been. The simple fact is we all fall short of the glory of God. Nobody is perfect, and absolutely everyone makes mistakes.

Everybody sins – we all err from time to time.

This is why the verse at the very beginning of this chapter is so important.

‘Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15 vs 1-2

Ironically, it is what the Pharisees said that is most important here – “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

No matter how far you think you’ve strayed, despite how wretched or sinful you feel, irrespective of how unworthy you deem yourself to be. and regardless of your belief that it is too late for things to turn around for good, always remember this verse;

“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

It is the loneliness of being lost that is so dangerous. And there’s only one way to overcome it – talk to someone.

During a conversation with one of my dearest friends a few weekends ago, he expressed his concerns about my openly writing about my former wild life-style. His reason being that the Nigerian environment / society is a very judgmental and unforgiving one. Not only do I understand his concerns, but I fully agree. Indeed, it is because society can be so unforgiving and judgmental that I am frank about my past.

There are too many people suffering in silence as a result of fearing what others might think or say. The best friend and accomplice of internal turmoil and struggle is silence – keeping things to yourself because of what people might say behind your back.

However, there are people in your life you can speak with about anything ; people who won’t judge or condemn, but love you even more.

I’m open about my past in order to encourage those experiencing personal challenges to seek help from those close to them. There is great substance in the phrase, ‘a problem shared is a problem solved’.

God placed certain people in your life for a reason. I can honestly say that without the love and unflinching support of my family and close friends, who God used to help and heal me, I would not be alive and well today.

Christianity is not about perfection and riches. Our personal relationship and daily walk with our loving father is to be exemplified in our daily walk with each other – love, kindness, tolerance, and helping one another when in need.

Unfortunately, too many of us behave like the Pharisees – judging others to the point of shame and slander. In what way does judging or slandering someone help that person???

Let those who wish to speak behind your back say whatever they will. All that matters is your recognition that God placed certain people in your life for a reason; and for such a time as this.

The wisest and most courageous thing you can do right now is to reach out and ask for help. Your father in heaven specifically designed whoever that person is to be the help and friend you need at this precise moment. God’s love will always overcome.

Still think your sin is too great?

Then please meditate on these verses.

1. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Romans 8 vs 31 – 32

No matter how far off-track you may be, remember that God gave his son to die for you. If he could sacrifice his son’s life for you then turning your life around won’t be a big deal for him at all. Indeed, it will be his pleasure to do so.

2. ‘Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercessions for us.’

Romans 8 vs 34

Regardless of what you’ve done, and irrespective of how wretched you feel, the son of God has not only already paid the price for you, but is constantly speaking to God on your behalf – defending you at all costs. This means absolutely nothing can suppress or obstruct God’s love for you.

The first step is to simply accept that Jesus died for ALL your sins once and for all.

You have already been forgiven,

You are already healed by his blood.

It is your acceptance of this unshakable and unbreakable truth that will set you free.

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