Lost and Found
Have you ever felt lost and confused about which way to go? I have. Recently I was questioning whether some steps I had taken with regard to this writing apostolate were what the Lord desired. I want to be in and do only His Will. After a period of some struggle within my spirit, I lifted up a cry to the Lord for clarity.
During that intimate time of union with Jesus after receiving Him in Holy Communion He helped me understand that I had been “wandering” and that I should “take His Hand again” and permit Him to guide me as a father leads his little child and He will take me and our work together where He wants us to go. Because I have responded to Jesus, I feel very peaceful again and secure.
Our Lord cares for us at all times and keeps watch over us every moment of our lives. He desires that we always are safe in His love. To be united to Him in love we must have a relationship with Him through prayer and through obedience to His loving commandments and docility to His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit reminded me of an experience I had while in Israel that reveals the Good Shepherd’s care for and guiding of His sheep, the unity with the heart and mind of Jesus that comes through prayer and the fruit of such prayer: that the work of the Lord is accomplished and His will is done.
Not long after my family moved to Israel I journeyed from the town where we were living along the coast to Jerusalem one day on my own. I did not know the city and knew nobody yet in the city. My goal was to drive up to Jerusalem and park outside the old city walls and enter through the Damascus Gate. From there I would walk through the old city streets and make my way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and pray a rosary there. I would take my time sauntering through the narrow cobblestone streets, soaking in the atmosphere and looking at the stores and shrines along the way and begin to get my bearings in this foreign country and in this mysterious, majestic and holy city.
I rejoiced when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
There the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
As it was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There are the thrones of justice,
the thrones of the house of David.
For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
“May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your ramparts,
prosperity within your towers.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends I say,
“Peace be with you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD, our God,
I pray for your good. (Psalm 122)
I walked for long time. After a while I realized I was completely lost. I did not know where I was. I had wandered into an area of the old city where there were not so many people around. I found myself on a street that seemed like a back alley far from the beaten path and I did not know which way to turn.
There was no one to whom I could ask directions. I was all alone. Although it was daylight, I felt suddenly nervous to be all alone in a big strange city on the other side of the world, not even knowing if I were in a safe area of the city as I had surely left the tourist and pilgrim area. Where were the people?
I was disoriented and had no sense of which way to go to find my way back to where I had come from. Then in my disquiet I lifted my heart to Jesus and He could see my distress. I don’t recall if I used any words in my prayer crying out to the Lord for help. I know He is always with me. I know that even if there is no one else around, He is there. He is always with me and Jesus Himself said that He would never forsake us or leave us! I stood there at a bend in the alley and looked around. I was all alone in this foreign city seven thousand miles from home and lost and very uneasy.
As I pondered in faith the knowledge of the truth that my Lord Jesus is always with me, I calmed myself. Just then, two women came around the corner of the alleyway and began walking towards me. As they drew nearer, one of them called out, “Ann!” I was struck with complete surprise and total be-wilderment as I wondered how in the whole wide world could my own name be called out like that by strangers. Who could know my name? How can this be? Then I saw their faces and realized that these two women were part of a Catholic group that lived outside of the old city of Jerusalem.
I had been introduced to them in a brief introduction a few weeks before when I had been invited to join in a “tour” of a holy site with others from their group. They had remembered me! And more amazingly, they had appeared “out of no-where” here in the old city on this remote back alley way right after I had called out to the Lord in my distress to help me. I was overjoyed when I realized our compassionate Lord had instantly answered my prayer and delivered me from my fear!
I told them how I had ventured to Jerusalem that day on my own and had gotten lost and ended up there in that back alleyway all alone. I told them that I had just prayed to Jesus asking His help as I was getting scared. I asked them what they were doing in Jerusalem on this little alley-way. They then told me that they had come into the old city to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in order to pray the rosary! That is where they were heading and what they were intending to do! I was utterly amazed. I shared with them that that too was my intention but that I had gotten lost.
I told them that the Lord had clearly sent them to me to help me find my way! Our joy was immense as we rejoiced at Jesus’ kindness and care for His children. They led me through the narrow cobblestone back streets of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and together we entered and went to the back chapel where on our knees before the Good Shepherd of our souls we poured our hearts of love out to Him while praying the holy rosary.
After we parted I made my way back the now familiar path to the Damascus Gate where I departed the old city and picked up my car. As I drove the highway home to the coastal town I worshipped Jesus with all my heart. So enraptured in prayer was I that I missed the exit of the highway to my town. I took the following exit, and at the bottom of the exit ramp I stopped at the traffic light.
There was a man standing there and he was seeking a ride. Generally I did not pick up hitch-hikers, but having been in a near state of ecstasy I was not thinking. My window was half rolled down and he leaned forward and asked where I was headed and if he could catch a ride. I joyfully told him that I was going near to the place where he wanted to go, and so I would be happy to take him.
As I mentioned, I was quite beside myself in joy having been praising Jesus all the way from Jerusalem on the account of His rescue of me in that alleyway by the remarkable way He affected it. Therefore, I was not fully concentrated on the man getting into my car. As we drove away I looked over at him and was suddenly struck by the fact that he was dressed in the religious attire of the Jews and on his lap was a huge book with gold-leaf pages and an impressive gilded cover.
He looked at me and asked, “did you make Alliyah?” I understand what he was asking me. He wanted to know if I was a Jew who had returned to Israel under the law of birthright. I smiled and pointed to my crucifix hanging from my front mirror, and sweetly told him, “No, I am a Christian,” at which point we both suddenly fell quiet.
I had not realized my hitch-hiker was a Yeshiva student who was to become a rabbi, and he did not know that he had hopped into the car of “a goyim” (meaning: a gentile/of the nations) as he afterwards in complete seriousness referred to me! But just as in the back alleyway Jesus had brought the holy ladies to me, our Lord had also brought this encounter about with Itzhak, the rabbinical student!
After a moment of silence the Holy Spirit moved and a deep and intense conversation began and what a conversation it was!
The drive took only about half an hour to the bus stop where I would ultimately bid Itzhak a fond farewell and “Godspeed.” As the busses pulled in and out and the passengers got on and off, we sat there for over two hours in my stopped car with the engine running conversing together about the Lord God and His Word.
Izthak, at one moment in his utter exasperation, as the Holy Spirit was assisting me to eloquently and accurately expound and unfold the true meaning of the Old Testament scriptures of Micah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Isaiah and their prophetic fulfillment in Jesus as the true Messiah of the Jews, Itzhak cried to me, “I am not allowed to listen to a goyim, or a woman, only my rabbi! ”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone…..For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests. They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which He confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this! (Isaiah 9:6)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matthew 2:1-6)
But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for Me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne; and the rest of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, His God; and they shall remain, for now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace. (Micah 5:2)
But nonetheless Itzhak just could not leave me. He seemed powerless to be able to with-draw himself from my car – although of course, he was free to leave at any time. I was surely not holding him hostage! – for the truth is that Itzhak was completely captivated by the Holy Spirit who was convicting his heart and mind of the Truth of Jesus Christ, who is the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews.
He was simply awe- struck by the truth that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Living God of Israel could be known personally and intimately (by a woman!) through the Person of Jesus Christ, the Father’s Only Begotten Son, who is God incarnate, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the Son of David, the Messiah and King of the Jews, and that Jesus loves him (Itzhak) so much that He died for him personally to save him from his sins.
Itzhak who was literally trembling from the Presence of the Holy Spirit who was powerfully with us in the car thanked me for all that had been shared and upon leaving he asked me for my telephone number. I gladly gave it to him and I assured him that night or day I would be willing to meet with him anywhere he wanted to share with him the Lord Jesus Christ – the lover of his ( Itzhak’s) soul and the Good Shepherd of Israel.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.
What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?
Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.
If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3: 1-17)
As he was leaving my car I told Itzhak I would always keep him in my prayers. I also encouraged him to pray to his Messiah, Jesus that same night and that surely Jesus would hear and swiftly respond to his call. As Itzhak was departing I also reassured him he was travelling on the right road to eternity!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.