Lost and Found

I was at the Renaissance festival with a good friend one hot and humid day in September when I found a treasure. It was a Chain Maille necklace with beads in pink, gray, and silver. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chain Maille, I would explain the jewelry to be very beautiful but also very convenient. You see, the beads are magnetic and adhere together wherever they are placed. So if I wanted to, I could make it a bracelet or necklace depending on how many times I wanted to wrap the beads in layers. I have always struggled with lining up traditional necklace claps, so I was delighted at how easily I could wear this necklace. I do admit not even flinching at the pretty expensive price. To me, it was one-of-a-kind, and I was excited to purchase it.
For the next few years, I wore the necklace quite often, particularly with the dress I often wore on Easter Sunday. I received many compliments on it, and every time I wore it, I also thought of my friend Kate who was with me the day I purchased it. This necklace was special to me, and it quickly became my favorite piece of jewelry.
In the summer of 2014, I did a lot of moving around. I basically kept my large suitcase accessible and ready in my closet. I started the summer by traveling to my sister’s wedding, followed by moving to my new residence, followed by a week at camp, followed by attending my nephew’s baptism, and finally leading worship at the Joni and Friends Retreat. As the summer drew to a close, I was excited to simply get back into the regular routine. One Saturday evening in early September, I went into my closet to pick out my outfit for the upcoming worship service I would be participating in the next day. I wanted to hold onto summer a little longer, so I decided to wear my Easter dress. But there was a problem; I couldn’t find my Chain Maille necklace!
I looked everywhere— taking each necklace down from the hooks on my bathroom wall and separating each necklace from the one next to it, emptying out my childhood jewelry box just in case it had been misplaced there, moving the shoes and boxes aside in my closet to make sure it hadn’t been dropped… I began to panic a little. What if I had unknowingly dropped it somewhere and it had been vacuumed up or mistaken for garbage. I remembered the weekend we had moved and my mother and I had sorted through all of my old jewelry and had gotten rid of many old and tarnished pieces. What if I had thrown away my Chain Maille necklace by mistake?
For the next few weeks, the missing necklace was never far from my mind. It bothered me that I had misplaced it, and even though it was just a trivial possession, I was saddened to realize that it was probably gone. I thought about all of the places I had traveled to throughout the summer. I realized that the last time I had worn the necklace had been when I visited my family for my sister’s wedding in June. At that rate, the necklace could have fallen out of my suitcase and be somewhere in the guest bedroom. Or maybe it had stayed in my suitcase and traveled to camp with me. Perhaps the necklace was in Madison. Considering the possibilities was exhausting.
I thought of this scenario recently as I was reading through Scripture. The parables of the woman and the lost coin along with the lost sheep caught my attention, and I thought about the parallels that existed in my own experience. Like the woman who searched for her lost coin, turning the house upside down and involving others in the search, I found I had done something quite similar with my missing necklace. I called my mother to ask if she recalled seeing it. I asked a friend to come over and help me look as well. But we still could not find it. I was ready to give up, but something kept me pursuing.
I wondered if this is what God must feel like when His children go astray. I know I have not always been the most faithful to Him. Often, my independent spirit drives me to succeed on my own, and I forget to seek Him along life’s journey. I know He is always there, but I don’t reach out to Him. But I think of how God pursues those whom He loves, and I almost tremble at the realization. It seems I have always been in relationship with Him; I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ into my life at a very early age. But what about those who are still far from that reality? Many of us within the church structure would call these people lost— those without salvation and the hope of eternity. These are the people I truly believe God seeks with a passion and tenacity that is unmatched. Although these individuals do not call out to Him, He is whole-heartedly invested in their lives, longing for that soul to embrace Him.
I have been a follower all my life; I should know Him in a deep and personal way. But sometimes, I feel lost… maybe even as lost as someone who isn’t yet a believer. I tend to push Him away when things are good and only seek Him when I need something. As I searched for that necklace, I think I even called out to God about it, asking Him to help me find it. I knew it was just a silly necklace, but suddenly I had a reason to seek Him.
In that moment, I’m almost sure God smiled at me, maybe even making some comment about my silly, lost necklace being so unimportant. But more than anything, I think His heart leaped to realize that I was calling out to Him even for something as trivial as lost jewelry. After all, it doesn’t matter how or when we talk to Him as long as we keep the communication open. After all, that’s how a relationship flourishes.
I wrote a song a few years ago that talks about this relational process— how even when we push Him away, He is waiting to restore us and bring us into life in Him. If you have the chance, read Jeremiah 29:11-13, and you’ll understand more fully this passionate pursuit of our creator. If we seek Him, we will find Him if we search with all our heart.
Guess what? I found my necklace! About a month after I noticed it had gone missing, I pulled my large suitcase out of the back of the closet. I had never thought to actually look through the bag. At first, I didn’t find anything. I zipped the bag closed and sighed with frustration. But then I saw the top pocket was gaping open, so I made a move to zip it closed as well. But that’s when I felt the urge to reach my hand inside the open pocket. And that’s when I found it; the necklace was wedged under a tiny fold of fabric that had almost created its own protective cove. The necklace had been safe there all along.
And found in Him, I am safe and sound as well. I am never lost when He is just a prayer away.

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