There are very few things I can honestly say I have achieved with a score of 99%. Whether this be a homework assignment, a quiz, test, or anything else that is graded, very few times have I been that good at something. When I was a retail equities trader in my very first job as a stockbroker, I was required to maintain a trading accuracy of at least 97%, or else we would be disciplined. Even a 3% margin for error, which sounds really small, could end up costing the company thousands and thousands of dollars. 97%? Yes. So, for every 100 trades I placed, I was allowed to miss 3 details and remain employed. I survived for long enough to transition to another job with our company, and leave that stress in someone else’s hands. When I made a trading error, I felt bad, don’t get me wrong, but I knew the company covered my mistake and the clients would be made whole. So, even though I felt bad, I knew the clients would be ok. My fat fingers wouldn’t cost them a dime, but the company wasn’t always so lucky.
With the volume of trades, and client calls, and market conditions, and all the stuff that happens during one trading day on any stock exchange, can you imagine the pressure of hitting enter when hitting at the wrong time could cost you your job? It was, at times terrifying. The pressure was intense. Nearly twenty years later, I still place trades for my clients, and they have become a lot less stressful over the years, but I still feel a slight twinge the moment i see an order has been sent into the wild blue yonder of Wall Street. I am always reminded of those early days when trading becomes…choppy. Like if a country would just up and decide to leave a union of European countries and it’s entire economy…someone pretty big, like the UK, for example…
Anyway, I bring up all of that because I don’t know about you, but when I think of all the people in this world, and all the scenarios we face on a daily basis…it’s almost incomprehensible to me to understand some of the parables Jesus used in Luke 15.
It isn’t hard to grasp because I don’t get the essence of our Savior, it is hard to grasp because if I had 99 great trades and one bad one, I would be taking a five minute break to move up another level in Candy Crush and sip on a Diet Coke. But what does He say the shepherd did when he had lost one sheep? He leaves the 99, to find the 1, and bring him back to the flock. Not only does he go to find the one, He actually finds the one! And celebrates the fact he has a margin of error of zero.
He discusses the piece of silver and the woman who turns the house upside down to find it, and does…and she celebrates. And as we all know, He goes on to discuss the prodigal son. When the prodigal son, who isn’t that far removed from some people we all know in real life, comes back…broken and broke, he doesn’t find the angst of a father, he finds the love.
Sometimes, I find myself feeling special, because I have a relationship with Jesus..and while that is special, I am no more special than anyone else on earth. John 3:16 doesn’t singularly specify Eric Wasson, of Westfield, Indiana to be the one that Jesus died for…no, He says that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.
Every person you see today, or tomorrow, or the next day…each of them are being pursued relentlessly by our God. He will never give up on them, no matter what they do. He gave each of them…each of us, free will. This free will gives us freedom to be…well, free and dumb, but it also gives us the ability to learn from our mistakes…to be broken and broke, and to know when it’s time to come home.
In Luke 15, I love this passage: “20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
Don’t you love that? He didn’t sit back on his porch, rocking in his chair, nodding his head to say, “I told you so…”. He doesn’t do that at all, he drops all feelings he had had about his son before this day, and runs to him with a hug and a kiss.
We were all there at some point. Our paths may look similar to the prodigal son, or they may look very different, but somewhere in our past we have all been at this point in our lives. We were gone…and have come back home. And maybe you, like me, have been gone a few times…only to learn that there is nothing as fulfilling as a life following Jesus, and come rushing back to Him, with your arms wide open to feel his eternal embrace. Jesus will never give up on you. No matter what you have done, no matter how bad you screwed up in the past…or are screwing up now, Jesus is waiting for you to come down the path, back to Him. When you do, you know that He won’t be sitting there, nodding his head, and looking at you in disgust. He will be looking for you with excitement and joy to know that you’ve come back. Jesus will celebrate that you’ve decided to join Him.
In closing, here is my ask for your prayer time today: each and every person you see is being relentlessly pursued by Jesus, in order to have a relationship with Him. Just like He pursued you, He pursues them. Pray for His guidance and wisdom in helping you constantly remember that no matter what is happening in someones life, at that moment, they are a child of God, and we are called to love them…and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our community. Yes, the relationship we have with Jesus is incredibly special…but that doesn’t mean that we are. In fact, the more we can make life about Him, instead of about us, we will begin to see the kind of world we want to see.
We can no longer sit back, complaining about how our Christian beliefs are being challenged, yet…not actually living them ourselves. If we, the Church, can help Jesus find the sheep, silver, or sons who are lost…by living how He wants us to, we’ll soon understand that 99% isn’t enough. Jesus wants to know them all, personally, and how awesome would it be to know that we helped His kingdom grow.
Eric J. Wasson