Joy in finding something that was lost

The Standard October 27, 2022

A few Saturdays ago my husband was working out in the garage while I was in the kitchen and laundry room.  He asked me to click the unlock button on my car’s key fob from inside the house so he could get something he needed. I did, and the next day I could not find my keys in their basket in the drawer. I removed all garbage from the outside trash can just in case the key ring somehow mistakenly had ended up in one of those bags. The most dreaded bag to sift through was the one which contained the rind, seeds and leftover mess from a cantaloupe. For over a week I could not find my keys, but put off digging through through those trash bags. Finally, in my last ditch effort of a search, I found that the keys had accidentally ended up under some fall ribbons upstairs. It was a huge relief. Not having the lost key ring hanging over my head made a difference in my level of peace, as trivial as that may sound.

It brought to mind a much more serious topic addressed in a parable by Jesus.  “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15; 8-10)

Philip Yancey writes “I have meditated enough on Jesus’ stories of grace to let their meaning filter through me. Still, each time I confront their astonishing message I realize how thickly the veil of ungrace obscures my view of God. A housewife jumping up and down in glee over the discovery of a lost coin is not what naturally comes to mind when I think of God. Yet that is the image Jesus insisted upon. The story of the Prodigal Son, after all, appears in a string of three stories by Jesus – the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son – all of which seem to make the same point. Each underscores the loser’s sense of loss, tells of the thrill of rediscovery, and ends with a scene of jubilation. Jesus says in effect, ‘Do you want to know what it feels like to be God? When one of those two-legged humans pays attention to me, it feels like I just reclaimed my most valuable possession, which I had given up for lost.’ To God himself, it feels like the discovery of a lifetime.”

Henri Nouwen puts it this way. “God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found.”

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