We seek after what we value. We determine to look for what was lost until we find it. We diligently search for it. It becomes a mental preoccupation. We may go about our day as usual but our minds cannot rest until we have recovered what was lost. We keep a watchful eye out for a glimpse of it. The fear of never finding it gnaws at our peace.
Some things just wander off like children and pets, unaware they are lost. Some things are carelessly handled and get lost in the shuffle of life like a cell phone, keys and my morning cup of coffee and some things just rebel like wayward children or chained dogs who’ve broken loose and run in freedom.
Jesus, in Luke 15 told three parables; The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coins and Lost Sons. In each of these narratives, something of personal value is lost, the owner ardently searches for it, and when it is found there is much rejoicing and a calling together of people to celebrate. Peace and joy replaced troubled hearts and anxious thoughts. A thankful heart is inspired to throw a party and celebrate!
I have a personal parable of lost and found…maybe not a parable but a really sweet story. The story of the lost camper keys. The setting is a campground in northern New Hampshire. It begins as I lock the camper and tuck my keys into my bag before going out to dinner. After dinner we made a quick stop at Walmart and then headed back to the campground. Upon arrival I went to grab my keys to open the camper – gone. I searched frantically for them; in my bag, in the truck, on the ground. I prayed and searched for about 15 minutes. I called both the restaurant and Walmart but no one had turned in my keys.
My husband was not impressed. His eye-roll tone of voice revealed his annoyance. He knew where his keys were and promptly unlocked the door. I think if it hadn’t been only three days earlier that I had left my wallet at the local seafood restaurant while picking up takeout, he may have had a wee bit more grace for me. The fact that I recovered my wallet, in tact, had no bearing on the fact that I had lost it.
Now this. I was feeling a bit like an irresponsible child. I still held out hope of finding them though I was ready to resign myself to the fact that they were forever lost. Keys are, after all, replaceable.
Out to dinner again, our last night of camping, we decided to run by Walmart just to see if maybe someone had turned in my keys. In passing I made the comment that I never remembered not finding something lost that I had prayed about. There was silence in the truck.
When we entered the store everyone scattered in different directions, each in search of something different. I headed straight for Customer Service. The very nice lady held up a set of keys…not my keys. When I described the retro key ring she held up a finger signaling hold on and promptly returned with my keys. MY KEYS! I nearly sobbed!. After a somewhat awkward exchange, (I think she was taken aback by my exuberance and joy) I hurried off to find the others!
Finding the keys was remarkable! Telling my husband was more than delightful! I found my husband and his response did not disappoint. He was stunned. He couldn’t believe it! He laughed. I cried. From down the aisle our friend rushed up to us and told me he had felt badly knowing that I had prayed for keys that he was pretty sure I wouldn’t find. He laughed! We all laughed! And all the way home I wept.
There were no tears when I lost the keys. I felt badly but I wasn’t undone. I wept when I found them out of this weird combination of humility and joy. I was delighted to find them but I was undone by the grace and mercy of the Lord. On the surface, this was about keys – just keys – but underneath this was a God-seized opportunity for His glory to shine on me in my smallness but not just me. My husband and my friend saw what I saw and knew what I knew and marveled. A kind and loving God revealed himself in an ordinary place. I saw the Lord because He saw me. He is the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:13)
One might be inclined to think that the “magic” to finding lost things is prayer but that’s just not true. Many a lost item has been covered in prayer yet never found and many things have been found without even a scant prayer. The focus of my story is not that lost keys were found but that, as the object of God’s affection, (Deut. 10:15) God bowed down to see me and pursued my heart. I was confronted and humbled by His love in a small place yet in an overwhelming way to the praise of His glory!
How astounding that a Holy and Wise God reaches down to build relationship with us though a million small things over the course of a lifetime! His love reaches to the heavens and his faithfulness to the skies! And in His light we see light. (Psalm 36:5, 9)