Have You ever experienced a missing child?
If you have, you know the horrible feeling of helplessness—the intense angst. And when you found them to be safe, you know the ecstasy of relief that washes over you.
The Lost Toddler
When my son was two years old, he went missing right at dusk. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when I realized the house had gotten quiet. I called his name. No answer. I went to look for him and found the front door open. His older brother and sister must have left it open when they left. I looked out the door and down the row of apartments, calling his name and scanning all around me for the little blond toddler. He was nowhere in sight. I ran back in the house and searched under beds, in closets, behind curtains, even in cabinets–everywhere a two-year-old could hide. Panicking I ran back outside and pounded on the doors of my neighbors. We had only lived there a few months and I didn’t know anyone. People came out and watched me search. Sadly no one helped. I raced to the swimming pool, playground, and laundry building.
It grew darker and streetlights in the complex came on. Suddenly, I realized he could have gone behind the apartment building where he could be lost in the acres of thick forest that grew back there. Tears filled my eyes. I ran behind the buildings but saw nothing but trees and their lengthening shadows. I hurried back in front of our apartment. Various thoughts played in my head. Call the police. Someone has taken him. He’s in one of these apartments and they are hiding him from me. Desperate, I screamed his name and frantically searched the complex again. No sight of him. Neighbors stood at their doors with their children and stared. Tears streamed down my face and blurred my vision. Sobbing, I prayed.
The Angel Hero
Then, in the far distance, movement caught my eye. I wiped my eyes and looked again. Soon, I could make out the figure of a man walking toward me, followed by a group of children. My heart leapt with hope.
I raced down the sidewalk toward them praying, “Please God, let my baby be with them.” And as I neared them, I was overcome with joy. My baby was being carried down the sidewalk on the shoulders of a large, very tall, very black man surrounded by several laughing and skipping children following him. The man grinned, a beautiful wide smile. He must have seen my relief. He chuckled and stood Micheál on the sidewalk. I hurried to him with open arms, and he padded toward me giggling.
I scooped him up and hugged him tight while I cried out my thanks to God and gave continuous gratitude to the stranger, this Angel, who found him. The man said his kids had found Micheál wandering around the apartment complex. He had placed Micheál on his shoulders so everyone could see the little blond, white boy in hopes someone would claim him before he had to call the police. God used this kind man to answer my prayers. My heart was full of rejoicing. I couldn’t stop grinning as I carried him home down the long sidewalk lined with cheering and clapping neighbors. Just the remembrance brings fresh joy.
Luke 14:4 The Lost Sheep
The relief and joy I felt reminds me of the parable in Luke 15:4 where Jesus told of the sheep who had gone astray. He said the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine and looks for this one lost sheep until he finds it. And when he does, he calls all his neighbors and celebrates. The anguish Jesus must feel when we, like sheep, wonder away not realizing that we’re lost and in danger. But Jesus, like the shepherd, will find us and carry us home. 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 persons who do not need to repent.”
Luke 15:8 The Lost Coin
We often think of a coin as just “change” but what if it were your only coin representing all you owned? In Luke 15:8 Jesus tells of a woman who had lost her coin and swept her house looking everywhere until she found it. She too celebrated with great joy. Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:11 The Lost Teenager
The LORD knows how many times we feel we’ve lost our teen. These years are the most agonizing for the teen and their parents. Our prodigal children can be lost in their own room, within their own thoughts. When we cannot reach them, we feel helpless. It is as if they have wandered out the door, like a toddler, and vanished. We search fretfully, cry and pray. But as Jesus tells us in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11, when the boy came to his senses, he returned to the Father and with open arms his father received him and celebrated his homecoming.
Matthew 28 and John 15 The Lost Hope
In Matthew 28 and John 16, we read about the women who went to prepare Jesus’ body, but it was not in the tomb. Imagine their shock. Mary was grieved that someone had taken the Savior’s body. He was their hope, and not only had he died, but his body was gone. As the women walked along the path, they met a man they didn’t recognize as Jesus, but when Jesus identified himself, they became overwhelmed with joy and ran to drop on their knees and hug his feet. What relief and joy. The Savior was not only found but was alive!
We rejoice with genuine praise and thanksgiving when what we have lost is found. Our tears of grief turn to tears of joy. When all seems lost, we realize our only hope is in Jesus. There is no other who can soothe our sorrow, mend a broken heart, and give courage in the face of fear like Jesus can. He alone can return hope to our lives and to the lives of others. Praise God, even when you feel lost. Know that you are never really lost from Him. He always knows right where you are, right where your loved ones are, and He never leaves us or them alone. Trust Him. Our Hope.
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