Some stories of losing, seeking, and finding
The gospel text at church last Sunday was the first part of Luke 15 -- the parables of the shepherd who leaves the flock and goes to find the lost sheep, and the woman who sweeps her house searching for a lost silver coin. The stories have an underlying spiritual meaning: God is concerned about every individual, and He rejoices when a sinner repents.
Losing and finding was certainly on our minds even before it was preached on at church. Isaac misplaced his iPod last week. He knew it was in the house, but he searched fruitlessly for several days. Finally he thought to look in Keely's room. There it was, on the bed where he had laid it while he was doing some ironing. It is not an exaggeration to say that he rejoiced.
I think the luckiest find I ever made was when I lost the stone out of my engagement ring. When I saw that it was missing, I told myself, "It's gone." I was really surprised a week or so later when I found the diamond in the bottom of the laundry basket.
One of my sadder losses happened when I was living in a college dorm. First, a couple of necklaces were missing, including one that my grandma had given me. Then I accidentally left a ring on our bathroom sink, and when I came back a few hours later, it was gone. I talked to my roommate and the other two girls who shared the bathroom, but they denied any knowledge. After that, I locked my remaining valuables in the closet, an action very similar to locking the barn door after the horse is stolen. I was glad when that semester ended.
In our yard, I've found about a dozen cut glass crystals that look like they came from a chandelier. The man who built this house worked at a factory where they made light fixtures, and I think he must have brought home a few crystals for his children. They played with them outside and either dropped them or forgot where they had put them.
I've never had a flock of sheep, but I've had quite a few pet cats over the years. Kitty, my Bolivian cat, got lost several times. She stayed with my mother-in-law during the five years we were in Germany. At one point, she went missing for a couple of months before she showed up again, looking like a skeleton. Mama Netz thought she must have been locked in someone's shed.
Kitty disappeared another time after she came to live with us in Kentucky. I walked down the roads and out in the woods and pastures calling her name, but I didn't find her. Several weeks later, I was working in the far corner of the yard and I saw a cat walking by. I thought it looked like Kitty, so I spoke to her. She turned and looked at me in total surprise. If I hadn't seen her, she would have kept on walking. I don't think she had any idea that she was near home.
Two thousand years have passed since Jesus told the parables of The Lost Sheep and The Lost Coin, but the experiences he relates in them are timeless. We all have lost-and found stories. Who has not experienced sadness and concern when something was lost, and joy and relief when it was found again?
After these two parables, Jesus told his audience a third parable -- The Lost Son (The Prodigal Son.) It's another timeless, poignant story of pain and joy that illustrates God's concern and love for each of us.