Lost Lamb, Panicked Parent

Image by mskathrynne from Pixabay

“In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 15:7 NLT

My two-year-old son was missing. He’d climbed the back of the sofa in the downstairs family room and slipped out of an unscreened ground floor window while I washed windows upstairs and his older brother and sister, who were supposed to keep an eye on him, watched cartoons.

We lived at the edge of a small rural village on what used to be the family farm. Where could he be on this warm, spring afternoon? Traipsing in the acres of woods and overgrown fields? Climbing the high wall, a steep, dangerous cliff left from open-pit mining years ago? Exploring the barn filled with suffocating hay bales or the wagon shed with all its enticing tools and machines? I imagined a small body floating on the pond fifty yards away and felt panic rise like bile in my throat.

The world can be a dangerous place for a curious toddler. Fear clutched my heart and squeezed hard. I called around the neighborhood while Todd and Jaime began searching. A neighbor boy hopped on his four-wheeler.

I can’t remember how long we searched. I only remember praying, pleading with God to help us find him safe and sound. We did—between the back doors of his grandmother’s house next door. She wasn’t home, so no one heard his knocking or answered the phone when I called.

What relief and joy flooded me when they brought him through the door! I hugged him and kissed him and hugged him some more.

There’s nothing worse than not knowing where your children are. My children knew the degree of punishment was proportional to the degree of panic.

Unlike us, though, God doesn’t panic when His children wander off. He always knows exactly where they are and goes after them. Not with punishment in mind, but in love and concern. He knows it’s a mean, dangerous world out there.

And He never forces them to return against their will. Instead, He calls to them gently, softly whispering their names so they hear it deep in their souls. He arranges circumstances to get their attention.

Cecil Murphey, in his books The Relentless God and The God Who Pursues, describes his own wandering and how God sought him, found him, and brought him home. My own Uncle Nick woke up in a jail cell after a drinking bout and found the Shepherd waiting for him. He became a Baptist minister who eventually led several family members to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.

Sometimes God sends others to bring home His beloved children. My friend Melanie wrote a book called The Apostles He Sends, describing how God sent others to draw her back to her faith after more than three decades of running away.

He never stops caring. He never stops loving us. He never stops seeking us when we stray. So whether you or someone you love is the little lost lamb, be assured that God knows where His lost ones are—and He’s working on bringing them home.

Thank You for never letting me out of Your sight, Father, and thank You for bringing me home. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 18:12–14; Luke 15:3–7.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. To use, please contact me @ michelethuey@gmail.com for permission.

Give Me a Map, Not an App!

 

road-atlas

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. . . . The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119: 105, 130 (NIV)

We weren’t lost. We just couldn’t find our destination.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t been there before. Of course, “before” was close to 25 years ago. And “there” was the Kinzua Bridge, which was once the tallest railroad bridge in the world—until July 2003, when an F1 tornado came roaring through the valley. What was left of the bridge has been transformed into a skywalk, which I wanted to see.

So on our Labor Day weekend camping trip to the Allegheny National Forest, my husband and I planned two day trips—one to the Kinzua Dam and the other to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

We had no problems on Saturday, but Sunday was another story.

We set out, armed with a road atlas, a map of the area, the Google map app on my cellphone, and Dean’s handheld GPS.

And we still got lost.

Well, not lost, but we kept getting turned around. Over and over and over again.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t navigated miles and miles and miles of unknown territory over the many road trips we’ve taken. But this time, it seemed we were driving in a big circle around the area of bridge but somehow couldn’t find the road to the bridge.

We even followed the road signs—you know the brown ones with the name of the state park, an arrow to indicate which way to go, and the number of miles?

Crazy, but Dean thought it was the signs that got us turned around. Because each time we took the turn the sign indicated to Kinzua Bridge State Park, we drove farther away from it, according to the Google Map app.

But then maybe the Google Map app, which depends on a strong satellite signal, wasn’t as accurate as it should have been. The satellite radio station we listen to kept cutting in and out, indicating a temporary loss of signal, which is often the case when traveling through the mountains. Same with the cellphone signal.

We’ve rarely gotten so confused—so turned around—that I, navigator and map reader extraordinaire, became so flummoxed I tossed my hands up in frustration.

“I give up!” I snapped, shutting off the Google Map app.

Which is probably what I should have done in the first place—or not even turned it on. Now that I look back—isn’t hindsight always better than foresight?—I never should have tried to use it at all, with the spotty signal and all. I should have chosen one thing to guide us—my trusty road atlas. It has never let me down.

We never did get to Kinzua Bridge. We’d planned on visiting a couple we know who were camping near Coudersport after we’d gone to the bridge. When I finally figured out where we were, I told Dean, “We might as well forget the bridge and go visit Mark and Anna. We’re already halfway there.”

The same is true in on the journey of life, isn’t it? We often get turned around and lose our way when we use too many guidebooks or apps. One says one thing, another says another. Which one is correct? Which one is accurate?

Give me a map, not an app. And only one—the map of God’s Word—will lead me through the confusion, chaos, and jumble of roads life can become. It’s clear, unchanging, unfailing, steadfast, and authored by the One who created me and the world I’m traveling through.

And, like my trusty atlas, it never has let me down.

What are you using?

Thank you, Father, for giving me Your Word and Your Holy Spirit to guide me through life. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 119 (Since this is a long portion of Scripture, you may want to break up the reading into daily sections of 25 verses.)