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Lost and Found

by Paddy McCoy

How do you lose yourself?

 I so didn’t want to go! 

It had been such a crazy, busy day, and I was emotionally spent. After a very hectic day, I wanted some good old-fashioned “me time.” 

But one of my student leaders had put together an opportunity for several students to serve a holiday meal at a retirement community in town. We had recruited students to help, but because of the timing of the quarter, several students were not able to make it at the last minute. In order for us to offer them what we had promised, it would mean that I’d have to go and help. Reluctantly (which seems like an awful thing for a pastor to say), I agreed to help so the event could continue. I’ll admit, though, the whole drive there all I could think about was myself and how tired I was and how badly I wanted to take care of me. 

Then an amazing thing happened as I arrived at the retirement community and started to help the students serve the elderly, I began to think about myself less (maybe that’s what it means to be selfless; to think about yourself less). I chatted and shared some laughs with the students who came while we were told what to do. As we began to serve the guests, I had some great conversations with our dinner guests. (The elderly have the best stories because they’ve seen so much over the course of their lives.) They were so happy to have us there. By the end of the night, I felt energized and went home with a smile on my face instead of a look of exhaustion and an air of self-centeredness. 

I started to think that maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, NIV).* As I started to help others, I began thinking of myself less and others more, and that’s when life started to get good again. So I lost myself in service to others, and that’s when I found the person I really wanted to be: a follower of Christ. 

You see, as sinful human beings we are naturally self-centered creatures, though we didn’t use to be. When Adam and Eve bit the fruit in the Garden of Eden, they dethroned God as the center of their being and replaced Him with themselves. 

The apostle Paul talks about this in his letter to the Romans. He says, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18, 19, NIV). As he reflects on his own sinfulness, he finally exclaims with great frustration, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV). He’s clearly focused on himself and his struggles. 

But then the tide of the passage turns when Paul takes his eyes off himself and places them squarely onto the person who belongs at the center of his life. He continues, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me [from me] through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). 

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NIV). 

Christ died for us while we were still thinking of ourselves, in hopes that we would put Him back at the center of our lives. We do this, in one way, when we choose to serve those around us instead of just ourselves. 

So if you’re willing to let yourself be lost in Christ, you just might find the person He created you to be. Wouldn’t that be something great? 

* Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.Paddy McCoy is a chaplain at Walla Walla University, located in College Place, Washington.

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