Lost & Found

It was a crisp November evening when my firstborn, a toddler, met me at the door wearing only a T-shirt and socks, the universal symbol for “I wet my pants and Mom is too fed up to look at me.” Despite the apparent mischief, he had the best kind of smile on his face — bright, genuine, full of discovery. He beamed with pride at some achievement of which he was about to inform me, one hand on the doorknob and the other clutching his little plastic guitar, still beeping “You Are My Sunshine.”

Daddy! he shouted into the darkness on the doorstep.

I found you!

I was fresh back from a two-mile run, my usual route. I had circled our small town, more or less, in the fading light of dinnertime, mind full of work, chores, a simmering argument with his Mom. I was the one who had traveled. He had stayed in the house, wet his pants, strummed his plastic guitar. The usual. He was not, in any way, looking for Daddy. But when I reappeared on the threshold, to his two-year-old mind, it was he who found me.

In the book of Jeremiah, God promised the Israelites, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

He wants us to search Him out, but keep in mind that these words were spoken to folks who already knew God. On the other hand is the kind of searching that belongs to Him alone. Jesus once explained the process of salvation as a shepherd setting out after a lost sheep, or a woman scouring the floorboards for a coin. He actively, fervently seeks out the ones who belong to Him.

And we hear His voice.

And we are found.

Yet, how many times has it been said that someone “found God?” How often have I mistakenly explained that I “came to God,” when, really, He appeared at my door and all I did was open it?

My son’s words might as well have been my own: Daddy! I found you!

At stake is God’s glory, and the depth of the humility we must feel in light of His grace. Do we worship a God who occupies the mountaintop and congratulates us when we climb to His heights and find Him? Or a God who discovers us in the gutter and welcomes us into the family? Which narrative humbles you? Which version stirs a deeper sort of love?

None of this occurred to Isaiah, of course. While I paused to process the scene, he tilted his head and stared, wondering what could possibly be wrong with me, then sidled over to my leg and laid his head against it, patting with his little mischievous hand.

It was going to be OK. He had found me. I knew what he meant: We were together again. And we smiled.

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“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”   {Jeremiah 29:11-14}
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'”   {Luke 15:1-7}