“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.” (Isaiah 65:1 NASB)
Have you ever lost something? I have, many things. Have you ever, years later, found something you thought was long lost and gone? I have, usually when I’m packing to move to a new home. Fortunately, moving doesn’t happen too often.
If starts like this: I’m not looking for an item in particular, just going through things, when something catches my attention. I stop and look closely at the new found treasure. Actually it’s something old, something lost a long time ago, usually something I didn’t remember I had. Sometimes it’s a delight and I rejoice. Sometimes it’s nothing and is promptly tossed in the bin. And sometimes, it’s a reminder stirring emotions I thought were long gone.
A couple months ago I was organizing my library. I have a couple friends who are professional librarians. They would be aghast at the lack of the Dewey Decimal system in my library. I don’t use numbers and often the titles are upside down. My standard librarian skill involves putting the books wherever there is space. This served me well for years but finally, in order to find things, I had to create some sort of organization.
I simply alphabetized the books, my apologies to Mr. Dewey, and found a couple volumes I needed to re-read and some I had never read. I set them aside to work through them at a later date. I always keep a stack of books waiting to fill that elusive spare time. A few weeks later I took one off the top of the stack. I rifled through the pages. Suddenly I found an old boarding pass ferreted away between the pages. I yanked it out, like removing advertising from a new magazine, ready to toss it in the bin. Then I stopped and read the faded printing. Unexpectedly I was flooded with memories.
The faded printing read, January 20, 1988. That was the flight date. Northwest flight 004 from Chicago to Narita, Japan. It was a fifteen-hour flight cramped into seat 23G. Economy class, affectionately known as Cattle Car, provided my 500 mph seat. This was the second of three legs to return to the mission field. I was returning from my father’s funeral. I remember the flight was long, cramped and lonely. I was trying to reorder my life at 35,000 feet.
“Living Above the Level of Mediocrity” was the book title where I found the boarding pass. I was reading the book when I heard the news and took the flight back the USA for the funeral. It was a gift I received just weeks before at Christmas. I took it along, knowing full well I wouldn’t read on the airplane and probably not find time to read at my parent’s home. With chapter titles such as, “Standing Firm when Discouraged,” Standing Tall when Tested,” it was perfect timing. I never finished reading the book.
Seventeen years later my thoughts returned to that January as I held and read the fading data on the colorful boarding pass. Sometimes, it takes a simple reminder to recall cherished things we miss. Regular letters from home, sharing my Dad’s thoughts, occasional phone calls just to keep in touch, long chats when we visited on furlough, all these came to mind and I missed them. They were part of my life and me. I held the paper in my hand and smiled. There was joy in finding the boarding pass.
As members of the human race we’re born and some things are already lost. We’re lost in sin we inherited from our forefathers who inherited it from their forefathers, ad infinitum. In our scurrying about in darkness God was lost to us. But God changed all that. Light came into the darkness and God allowed Himself to be found. Oh the joy in finding the God of grace.
When we repented and received God’s gracious gift of salvation, we remembered cherished things we missed. Reading God’s letters sharing His thoughts, hearing Him as He responds to our prayers, long conversations when He reveals His love for us, all these are found in that priceless gift of faith. Oh the depth of joy in the finding.
After I found the boarding pass, I was more alert to see what else might be hiding in an unfrequented binding. Sorting through old boxes I looked carefully to discover that unobtrusive slip of paper, that small memento, that special rock picked up along the way. I started flipping through the pages of other books I hadn’t opened in years. I was hunting for another memory, sad or happy, it didn’t matter. It was the reminder I wanted to find.
There are photos adorning our walls as reminders of people and places and events. I like to stand and stare while I remember and relive things long gone. But, it’s often the small, unexpected, tucked away treasure we find, by accident, that brings the greatest joy and most touching memory.
Gallivanting through Scripture keeps us mindful of God’s precepts, God’s grace and God’s plan for our redemption. But, it’s often in that one verse, seen over and over, that we unexpectedly find a treasure we didn’t realize was there. While looking for a specific passage we stop and unintentionally read another verse along the way. The words suddenly jump out at us to remind us of God’s work in our life and how precious our relationship is with Him.
Sometimes we need to slow down and look more carefully. We need to turn the page unhurriedly. We need to insure our goal doesn’t distract us from the treasure along the roadside. Next time we read God’s letters to us, will we hurry to reach the end or, take our time and see if a new nugget of wonder will make itself found. I once was lost but now I’m found! I’m glad God didn’t rush by but stopped to find me, hold me in his hands and smile.