By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – March 20, 2016) –“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” — Luke 19:10 (NRSV).
Although it’s been over 30 years when I thought my youngest son was lost at the Tulsa State Fair, I can still recall the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. We were with relatives and our extended family had drifted into two groups. While we were browsing booths, I became aware Clint was missing from our group. Instead, without my permission, he had moved ahead with the others.
Eventually, my son was found safe in the arms of his father, but not before I had panicked and sought the assistance of a police officer, who then alerted other officers to my son’s absence. However, I’ve never forgotten the feeling of hopelessness that enveloped me in that moment.
Recently, a friend shared with me a sermon she’d heard about being lost. The pastor referenced a program called “Hug-a-Tree and Survive,” which teaches children how to survive if they are ever lost in the woods. The survival program was developed following the 1981 search for a young boy, Jimmy Beveridge. The youngster had become separated from his family while in the woods. Instead of remaining in one place where rescuers could find him, the nine-year-old had wandered aimlessly trying to find his way out. Searchers found the boy’s body five days later.
Wanting to prevent other children from making the same mistake, rescuers came up with a “Hug-a-Tree” campaign with four simple rules, which are easy to recall:
1. Tell an adult where you are going.
2. If you are lost, “Hug-A-Tree” and stay put.
3. Keep warm and dry.
4. Help searchers find you by answering their calls.
However, it is the second of the four rules, “Hug-A-Tree,” the pastor emphasized in his message. In his sermon, the pastor referenced Jesus’ sacrifice on the “tree,” hope for our eternal future.
Many in the world live with a sense of hopelessness every day. Even more frightening, however, is to be without hope of an eternal future. God didn’t send Jesus for the perfect, because there are none. He didn’t hang on the cross for those who had it all together. God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that those of us who are lost could return home.
The message of the ‘tree’ fills me with hope and reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down,
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
When we find ourselves lost and without hope, all we need to do is hug the tree, the “tree” of our precious Savior.
Photo captions: 1) Illustration of The Old Rugged Cross is http://boruffmusic.com. 2) Carol Round.
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