[King Josiah] stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
2 Kings 23:3 (NIV)
One of the common themes of all great stories is when the hero loses his or her way. We see it in Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode VIII as he has chosen self-exile. Ron Weasley similarly chooses out in the Deathly Hallows. Edmund loses his way and follows the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In The Hobbit, it is Bilbo who loses his way in the Misty Mountains where he happens to find a plain-looking golden ring in the darkness. Despite his insistence that he would never fall away, Peter denies that he knows Jesus three times.
Along my spiritual journey, I have come to embrace that losing one’s way is a common theme for a lot of us. As I look back on my own life journey, I can humbly point back to a period of time I call “the dark years,” in which I lost my way and made many regrettable choices.
In the Great Story told between Genesis and Revelation the theme of losing one’s way is recurring. From the Hebrew tribes “wandering in the wilderness” for 40 years to the exile of Israel and Judah in Assyria and Babylon to Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, the tale of losing one’s way is a familiar one.
In today’s chapter, King Josiah reads the recently discovered Books of Moses to his people. We have no idea how long it had been since the story of Moses delivering the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and God establishing a covenant with them had been read. It says in today’s chapter that the annual Passover Feast prescribed by God had not been celebrated “neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.” That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 years.
Today’s chapter is essentially about coming home, the Prodigal’s return, and the hero finding his or her way back to the path. Luke shows up to deliver the rebel forces in stunning form. Ron returns just in time to save Harry. Edmund is redeemed and restored by Aslan. Bilbo finds his way back to Thorin and Company with the ring that will help him facilitate the overthrow of Smaug. Jesus restores Peter on the shore of Galilee with three affirmations of his calling. Josiah leads the nation in renewing their covenant with the God who delivered and established them.
In the quiet this morning, I’m reminded that losing one’s way is a very common story. Jesus told stories about lost coins and lost sheep as well as a lost child. The stories are ultimately not about being lost, but about being found. The Shepherd risks the entire flock to search for the lost sheep until it’s found. The Prodigal’s father waits patiently and expectantly on the porch to catch sight of his child’s return. The found book helps Josiah and God’s people to find their way back to God.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
For the spiritual pilgrim, there’s both encouragement and hope in the revelation that God expectantly desires that I find my way back to Him.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.