Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lost and Found

A devotional I wrote for the MOPS meeting this morning:

A lady at my church shared with me a scary but true story. S he was running late one morning as she pulled to the stop sign at the entrance of her neighborhood (at the intersection of a busy road). She looked over and saw a little boy around 2 years old standing in the grass in his pajamas by the side of the road. She looked around and couldn't see any parents. She got out of her car and approached the boy. He looked frightened. She asked him if he was lost, where his house was, where his Mama was, if he needed help. He didn't answer but just looked at her with fear in his eyes. She looked at her car, knowing that she was going to be hopelessly late for work, then took the little boy's hand and started walking with him. At each house she stopped and asked, "Is that your house?" hoping that he would recognize a house and nod or speak or smile or somehow show her that she was on the right track. He never looked up but just kept walking silently beside her clutching her hand tightly. After several minutes she noticed a house with the garage door up and lights on inside. Since it was still quite early, most of the other houses were not yet stirring. She led the boy to the front porch and rang the bell. A woman answered the door, looked at her, then looked down at the little boy, and got a panicky look on her face. She began to cry. "Where? How? When?" She couldn't even finish her questions. She later explained that her husband had left the garage door up by mistake, and she hadn't known there was a door open to the outside. She was embarrassed to admit that she hadn't even missed the little boy yet because she was so busy getting ready for the day.

I am a mom. Immediately I began to sympathize with this poor lady. An honest mistake--we all make them. Mommy Guilt--it's the worst. I wonder what she told her husband. I wonder if she tried to share the guilt with him for leaving the door open. I wonder if she canceled her morning plans and just sat and held her son and cried for fear of what could have happened. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I'm more like the little boy than the mom. Let me retell the story from his perspective.

Mom is getting ready for work. She's in a bad mood and keeps telling me to get out of her way. I'm hungry for bananas, but she said, "In a minute." I am bored but she won't play a game with me. Daddy has gone to work. He said he'll play ball with me when he gets home. I opened the garage door to tell him good-bye again, but he was already gone. He forgot to close the door. I'm not allowed outside by myself. Mom says it's dangerous. I wonder what's so scary about going outside. It's still dark out, but I think I can see the sun coming up over the trees. I'll just step outside and see if I can see it. Ooh, a squirrel just crossed the road. I wonder where it is going. Mom will be mad if she knows I'm gone, but surely she would understand that you don't get to chase a real squirrel every day. It's nice outside by myself. It's quiet, and I can hear the birds singing. It feels good out here. I see the birds fly over a house. I follow them. I have walked a long way, and I can't see my house anymore. The cars are so close now. There are lots of them. They are driving very fast. I am scared of them. I know I should go home, but I don't know which way it is. I wish the birds would fly back to my house so I could follow them. It's pretty cold. I don't have shoes on, and the grass is wet. I want my Mommy. A lady is getting out of her car. She's talking to me. I don't know how to answer her. She wants to take me home. I don't know how to get there. I need help. She is holding out her hand. I'm scared, but I put my hand in hers. She's going to help me.

We live like this little guy every day. God gave us the gift of free will. He left the garage door open, if you will indulge my metaphor. He makes it quite clear that we are to stay inside, but He doesn't force us to do so. Sometimes we just mean to look outside, not to actually take a step. We mean to keep a foot in the door so it won't close behind us. But little by little, we move away from Him. Sometimes we realize that we're sinning, but it feels so good we just keep moving farther away from God. By the time we decide to turn around, we are hopelessly lost.

Fortunately, God understands that we are like curious children. He knows our sinful natures, and He sent us Jesus to show us the way back. Sometimes we are so paralyzed with fear--or so wrapped up in our sinning--that we can't or don't ask for help. Jesus holds out His hand. Take it. That's all you have to do. Just reach out and accept the grace of Jesus Christ and allow Him to lead you home. He doesn't want you to explain why you left. He just wants you to admit you can't get back home without Him. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Consult a map. Wander aimlessly. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs. You just won't find your way home unless you take His hand and let Him lead you. And when you do, I can promise you that God will be there to throw His arms around you, hold you tight, and say, "This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found" (Luke 15:24).

1 comment:

Becca73180 said...

Seriously, when are you going to write a book? This is so good!

I'm going to steal it and use it for youth group next week!