I am happy to say that I made it safely back to the USA and am working on getting back into the swing of things. My journey was mostly uneventful, except when I landed in Richmond and discovered that my bags had decided a 5 hour layover wasn’t enough time and decided to miss their flight. Normally, this would have turned me into a head spinning person but I felt fine. It would’ve been nice to have my things but it wasn’t a big deal. They weren’t lost; they were delayed.
Somehow, and I really don’t know how my brain made this jump, I began thinking about “lost” souls. It’s a relatively common expression but is it one we should be using? I couldn’t find a reference to “lost souls” in the Bible, although lost sheep did come up (Luke 15:4). I found two definitions according to Merriam-Webster for the word lost and one makes sense for this context and the other doesn’t.
- Unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts.
- Denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered.
The first definition could work but what lost has such a negative connotation to me. The second definition doesn’t work because God can restore anything.
To me, I’d rather refer to them as delayed souls. I used to think that I could pray for lost souls and that they would be “found” quickly. There’s a time limit in my mind that I implement when I say the word “lost.” I used to get frustrated that I saw no progress when I prayed for specific people’s soul. A delayed soul means that there may be things happening outside of our control and that they will get there but you don’t know how long it will take. Some people take the scenic route. Delays can be indefinite but we already know that we’re dealing with stretches of time with no end in sight.
Sometimes the phrase “lost souls” seems hopeless like no one can find them. After I was particularly frustrated with no “saves” I began to write people off as lost – as in too far gone. No one is too far for God but I thought they were too “tough”. Some things are lost forever and it’s easy to decide that some people just won’t change. When I think about them as delayed though it reminds me that even though they’re not ready today, there’s always tomorrow. It just reminds me that every person has the ability to be saved but we don’t know when. It keeps me encouraged and hopeful. I don’t know – maybe I’m overthinking the entire phrasing.
Be honest – does this make sense or do you think “lost souls” is the better way to refer people? How do you stay encouraged when it’s been years and someone you’re faithfully praying for still doesn’t believe? I love hearing from y’all.