-- Nathaniel to Cora in The Last of the Mohicans.
My oldest son, Daniel, was missing for five of the longest days of my life. Trying to escape ballooning pressures at school and with friends, my eleventh grader bolted and hung out at a friend’s house. He didn’t tell us, and the house didn’t have phone service.
We reported Daniel missing to local law enforcement when he didn’t come home last week. We called all his friends, the school, coach, youth pastor, other parents. No one had seen him. We checked his usual hang-out places like the library and the YMCA. We drove up and down every street in town and the two adjacent burghs. My husband took the north part of town and I took the south and walked every street. We activated every prayer chain we could, on four continents. We didn’t sleep for five days. I wrote: “This feels like a bad nightmare. I keep waiting to wake up and then realize I am awake.”
Unimpressed with police efforts to help find Daniel, we contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, something no parent ever wants to do. But we were desperate. That’s one crackerjack organization. Within an hour we had a case number, a case manager, a branch office on board, forms emailed to us for media alerts and access to an emotional support team. One teary phone call and the gears of a massive, nationwide search-and-find machine swung into action, even while every horrible scenario imaginable kept shoving itself into my head. Choking down panic, manning the phone and concealing my red, puffy eyes became a full-time job:
"I feel like I’m losing my mind. No. That’s not it. I’ve lost it. Every mom-ism in the world has been summoned from every corner of my mind, every fiber of my being. I will throw myself from a moving vehicle, step in front of a truck, move heaven and earth with my teeth to find my son. If I have to call out the National Guard or lead a Marine battalion with fixed bayonets, I will find you. I don’t care what paper blizzards I have to plow through. I don’t care how much it costs. Or how long it takes. I will find you."
The parables of Luke 15 leapt into a focus as never before. In this chapter Jesus includes three “losts” in just 32 verses – sheep, a coin, and a son. Just think of the massive search-and-rescue effort launched by the shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in open country and goes after the lost sheep “until he finds it.” Or the woman with ten silver coins, who loses one. She sweeps “the entire house” and “search(es) carefully” until when? Until she finds the lost coin. Same with the father of the thankless son who squandered his inheritance and returned home repentant.
Notice what happens next. Once the lost item is found, there’s joy, rejoicing, a party, celebrating, and more rejoicing. Think party hats and noisemakers at Mach 3 with your hair on fire. Think beating a kettle drum the size of Alaska, a dancing-like-there’s-no-tomorrow, jumping-up-and-down celebration with all the trimmings. Think cartwheel-turning, all-the-candles-burning, crowing-with-glee-till-the-cows-come-home elation.
I know the feeling.
Turns out Daniel was at a friend’s house a couple miles away – without phone access or any other contact info. Someone who heard we were looking for Daniel showed up at our front door. It was a God thing: “I don’t know the address, but I can take you there.” He did. We knocked on that door and there was Daniel, safe and sound and a little dazed by the commotion.
Angels rejoicing over found sheep, coins and a son has a whole new ring to it now.
Have you ever thought about it? About what the Lord Jesus Christ did – and does for us? He didn’t leave us in our lostness. He’s a search-and-rescue Savior, a never-give-up God. He invaded a fallen world to find us. He gave his life to redeem *lost* humanity. You and me. And my son. Think of it this way:
“I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far -- I will find you.”