Luke Shambrook is 11 and has autism.
Over the Easter weekend he and his family went on a camping holiday at Devil Cove, a bay near Melbourne. On Good Friday morning Luke went missing and an intensive search operation was launched involving the police, rescue authorities and more than 120 volunteer holidaymakers.
They used motorcycles, sniffer dogs, horses, four-wheel drives, jet-skis and aircraft to search through the thick scrub and eucalyptus trees of the unforgiving Australian bush. At times thick cloud hampered the search reducing visibility to less than 30 feet. After four days and nights Luke had not been found and hopes were fading.
Then on Tuesday morning Brad Pascoe, on one of the search helicopters, spotted a little flash of something in the bush on the side of a peak. They turned the helicopter round. It was Luke! Everyone was overjoyed! Some of his police rescuers were close to tears of relief and joy, as were his family when they were reunited with Luke.
Luke was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia and was taken to hospital. He probably would not have survived another night in the bush. Luke’s uncle thanked all the rescuers and volunteers and said, “We’re thankful to live in a society that puts a lot of effort into finding children who go missing.”
This story reminds us of a parable Jesus told about a shepherd who had 100 sheep and one of them went missing. He left the 99 other sheep in the open countryside and went in search of the lost sheep until he found it. He joyfully put the sheep on his shoulders and brought it home. Then he called his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him. Jesus said, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.”
As we look at our own lives, and the lives of so many, we can understand why Jesus said we are “lost”. We have wandered away from the God who created us and loves us. Jesus came to the world to seek and save us. One hymn writer wrote, “Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.”