Have You Been Lost?
Which way shall we go?
by Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the importance of guidance and direction in our lives.
Preparation and materials
You will need a variety of items that help to show people the way, such as a satnav, torch, map, compass and bell.
Show the items to the students and ask them what all the objects have in common. The answer is that they are all means of helping us when we are lost, ways of providing guidance. Explain that you are going to tell them a story about a lost traveller, William Davis.
In Hampshire, in the 18th century, William Davis was riding home when a heavy fog surrounded him. He soon found that he had lost his way. Suddenly, he heard the bells from his church start to ring, so he followed the sound and arrived safely home. Later on, he worked out that he must have been very close to the chalk pits, which had very steep sides. If he had gone any further, he might have fallen in and been killed.
When Mr Davis died in 1754, he left some money in his will. The money was to pay the bell-ringers to ring the church bells twice on 7 October every year, at 6.30am and 7pm, in gratitude for the help that the bells had given him when he was lost.
Ask the students to think of a time when they have been lost. Perhaps they went for a walk in a forest and lost their way. Perhaps they decided to enter a maze and suddenly found themselves trapped and unable to find the way out. Maybe they have been a stranger in a big city or separated from their friends and family in a large shopping centre.
Ask the students to think about how they felt when they were lost. If possible, share a story here about when you have been lost and how you were found.
What would you do if you were lost? Call for help? Ask for directions? Use a map and compass? Look for signs or lights that could guide you and then follow them?
There are often stories in the media about people who have been lost and found. There are also many adventure stories about the subject, such as Robinson Crusoe, a story about a sailor lost at sea who had to survive on a desert island.
However, there is another way of being lost and that is to be lost in a crowd. Most people feel like this at some point in their lives.
In the Bible, Jesus told several stories about things or people that were lost and then found. There was the farmer who searched for his one lost sheep, and the woman who lost one precious coin and was very happy when she found it. Possibly the most famous story that Jesus told about lost things is about the lost son. In this story, a young man takes his inheritance and leaves home, travelling a long way from his father who really cares for him. He wastes his money on worthless things until he finally realizes that he has made bad choices and done wrong. Then, he returns to his family to be welcomed by his father with open arms.
These stories reflect how Christians believe that human beings have wandered away from God, but that God is always waiting for their return. Jesus promises to be our light in the darkness to help us and guide us in our lives if we trust him. He said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14.6). Jesus also said that he had come ‘to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19.10).
Time for reflection
Perhaps you feel that you are lost, or have wandered away from the path to being the person you wish you could be. Maybe you feel that you have let people down by something you said or did, causing a relationship to be ruined. Words can be painful, but not forgiving breeds bitterness and misery, whereas forgiveness leads to peace and freedom. Try to understand people’s different points of view and don’t leave it until it’s too late.
Perhaps you wonder what you are going to do with your life and feel that you lack direction and purpose. Like the lost traveller in the story today, you feel lost on the journey of life. It’s important to look to caring friends and family when we feel confused about things and need pointing in the right direction.
Thank you for those bell-ringers whose ringing guided the lost traveller out of the fog and safely back home.
In our lives, please lead us and guide us when we feel lost and alone, or simply when we feel that life doesn’t make any sense.