There are so many ways to get lost. Sometimes I think I know where I'm going, but I end up on the wrong side of town altogether. Other times I'm aware of my navigational deficiencies, but I proudly and silently proceed, hoping no one notices. There's something about the challenge of finding my own way that wrongly appeals to my pride.
The parables Jesus told in Luke 15 portrayed things that had no way of solving their own problems. Sheep are foolish animals that follow the cravings of their bellies; they don't know how to tell the difference between what's best for them and what will harm them. Inanimate objects like coins may not be in harm's way when they go astray, but money is of no value if it disappears. Its entire purpose for existing is thwarted. Both of these examples remind me of my accidental, careless wanderings away from Christ.
In the third situation Jesus describes, the lost son is intentionally maneuvering away from his father. The son's prideful pursuit of sin destroyed him. Though he finally became aware of the error of his ways, he was helpless to change his desperate situation.
There are so many beautiful truths woven into these stories. The owner knows the true value of the lost thing and is always looking for it. Even with the lost son, who belligerently sought his own way, the father's eyes stayed on the horizon, watching for his return. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him.” And there's always celebration when the lost is found. Whether my path away from Him has been gradual or immediate, accidental or intentional, He always welcomes me back with rejoicing and blessing.