For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Lost and Found
The financial term for recovered loss is “made whole.” This intrigues me, as it derives from a King James Version euphemism for healing. The hemorrhaging woman, for example, is “made whole” by touching Jesus’s cloak. The modern usage is altogether appropriate, since restoration is the overarching theme of Christ’s ministry. His parables constantly return to “lost and found”—the lost sheep, coin, pearl, etc. And in Luke 19.10, He defines His ministry: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” He came to make us whole, to restore our lost hope and relationship with God. Then, in one of His many classic reversals, He tells us we’ll find what we’ve lost is by losing what we have.
It takes a few goes to bank that hairpin. Our first impulse focuses on the verbs: save/lose, lose/find. But it helps to consider what Jesus says we must lose and what we’ll find. Although He uses one word (“life”), He’s speaking of two things. This lost-and-found message isn’t retrieval. It’s replacement—the exchange of an obsolete, dysfunctional, selfish life for one that’s relevant, effective, and caring. What must be lost, then, are habits, attitudes, and fears that contradict His principles. (Notice the subtle insertion of “for me” on the lose/find side of the equation.) We like to say we “give our hearts to the Lord.” If only it were that simple, handing ourselves over to let Him sort out our mess! It’s not, though. Taking stock of our lives, discarding everything unsuitable for His use is our job.
What’s in Your Closet?
“Coming out” isn’t an exclusively gay rite. Our individuality requires all of us to leave some kind of closet. We all worry how others will respond when we muster the courage to be ourselves. In the process, we amass piles of prejudice, resentment, and disappointments—along with selfish desires, expectations, and beliefs. At first, they help solidify our resolve to live our own lives. But once they’ve served their purpose, we don’t toss them. We stash them away, just as we cram our actual closets with derelict appliances, funky clothes, and cheesy memorabilia. We can’t use them, don’t like them, are embarrassed by them, and need the space for better things. Still, we hold on to them in case…
So what’s in your closet? We all need to take a realistic, pragmatic inventory of our closets, haul out everything that gets in our way, look at it one last time, say, “I surrender!” Then, we need to throw it out once and for all. That’s how we lose our lives and how we find them.
Originally posted 9/22/08.