Finding Lost Things

I am the #1 finder in our house. If something is lost, I’m the one that gets called in pretty quick. Sometimes too quickly.

I’ve threatened people in my family. If I find it upon entering your room and just looking around, I’m going to be…not happy, I say.

While I packed to go on a trip once, I opened the cabinet where we kept our nice DSLR camera. My destination was beautiful and I wanted to beef up my stock of photos. The cabinet opened and no camera.

This puzzled me because I’d taken a trip the week before with the camera and was sure it came home with me. I backtracked my steps and remembered that when I got off the plane at home, I left it in the overhead bin. I’d left it and lived in great peace and calmness not knowing our expensive camera was gone.

But I was headed to the airport so I decided to just check and see if they had a lost and found. My experience with losing things in Asia was not great. If you left something somehwere, it was no longer there 5 minutes later. My hope was almost nonexistent.

You know what? I came home with our camera.

There was a lost and found. The camera was waiting. To claim it, we needed to look at the photos. Bummer, dead battery. So I described the photos of the panda reserve, little blonde kids, and a wide smile wreathed the woman’s face.

She remembered the photos and gave me back our camera! I was so happy.

The camera is still with us taking great pictures.

Losing things is not fun. Finding things is so much more fun.


Here’s a few things that guide my searches…

It will not come to you. The essence of lost things is that they do not know they are lost and they cannot get back. We’re talking about things here. They just are where we left them. They’re not going to come back to us on their own. They must be found. Waiting around isn’t going to bring them back.

Lost things do not come back on their own.

Where was it last? Start there. You see, lost things are where they are. They are things and they don’t know they are lost. They do not move on their own. It’s obvious and easy to forget when looking, but you must backtrack and determine where the item was last.

You must go and discover where the lost thing is if you want to find it.

What was happening? If backtracking doesn’t work, then think about what was happening. In the panic of losing things, my family members generally resist my questions. They feel antagonistic and blaming. What were you doing? spoken to a sensitive soul feels accusatory.

But, it helps me to know if the shoes are under the chair where Xbox is played or in the backyard because they were contaminated with the dog waste.

Discovering the story around the loss will help you know where to look.

Why can’t we see it? So often, I find things because I lifted something else. The calculator was under the shirt. The keys were in the pants pocket. The stuffed tiger was in the microwave (yes, that’s a funny story of sibling rivalry).

Sometimes the item is hiding under something. Well, it isn’t hiding but it got covered up and needs to be uncovered.

Be persistent. Ask dumb questions. Basic elementary questions like what was I carrying? Where would I be if I were Ali’s camera after an airplane trip? Keep asking and don’t give up hope that there’s a lost and found when nothing ever seems to get found.

Persistence and hope lead us much farther than despair.

Wait. Somethings are only found by waiting. When we’ve exhausted the search, sometimes we need to wait. Often, one day it will just show up in the least expected place.

Time can uncover what our abilities cannot.

Pray. The much loved stuffed Tiger was lost for three days. Three days of comforting a crying boy with a second best toy at night. I related my small dilemma to a friend on the phone. She said she’d pray. I prayed a one liner to God that moment, looked to my left and saw Tigey stuffed between the fridge and the wall.

God can find things for us when we ask for help.

As I walked around campus and my city this week and talked to people who are seeking God, I started thinking about finding.

Do I really search for people? It haunts me a little

I hope I can be as good at finding lost people as I am at finding my kids calculator.

How to Doubt

Every night I peek in the garage to make sure the garage door is closed. Then I glance at the front lock and the back lock. After perusing the kids bedrooms to turn out errant lights and music, I head safely to bed.

Everyone pays when I don’t do it. Snuggled all cozy in bed, I’ll ask did you check the back door? That’s always a fun marriage question. No one wants to check it, that’s what the question is all about. I’m not sure. Are you sure? If you’re sure, I can be a little surer, but not completely sure. The preferred response asker wants is always, always…that the other person goes and checks.

That, my friends, is what multicultural books call indirect communication.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad that I don’t want to check…but not bad enough to go check. Lest I not properly warn those thinking about marriage, this question has many forms. Locks, babies, water faucets, lights, and coffeemakers are all eligible subjects of this annoying habit.

Now, don’t you want to get married?

But what about when it comes to doubt that goes deeper than a visual spot check? Doubts about God. Questions about future direction in life. Qualms about how honest someone is being with you. All these eject us into much murkier territory emotionally.IMG_1282

For me, doubting has come in many forms. Doubting my faith is less my thing than doubting whether God is going to take care of me or my family. My questions about God has of yet to plunge me into an existential crisis. I’m no philosopher. In fact, I just looked up existential crisis on wikipedia to make sure I was using it correctly!

So, when I doubt God, its not like doubting whether my garage door is closed or not. You can’t just go look and say, oh, God’s good because I can see x, y, or z has happened. There’s a lot of ways to explain away the good in life or get stuck on the evil we all experience to differing degrees. Doubts don’t seem to just go away.

So, how should we doubt?

  • Face to Face. Its tempting to discuss my doubts at length with others, to live in the philosophical, to totally twist my mind in knots on my own without ever addressing my issues to God Himself. If I’m to cast my cares on God, to pray without ceasing, to not worry but pray, then it makes sense that when I feel anxious about God Himself, He wants me to talk to Him about it. Is it impertinent? Or rude? Or prideful? I would say it depends…
  • Expectantly. Kinda weird. What I mean is, that we should expect that God wants us to know Him, wants to guide us, and has all power to do so…in His time. Expectant means we wait for His answer which can come in many ways. My basis for this is Psalm 23. A shepherd feeds his sheep and leads them through danger. I cling to this passage when I need to be reminded that He is my shepherd.
  • Actively. Check things out. Read your Bible. Seek. Its easy for doubts about God to live in the realms of our head and the hallways of our emotions instead of treating them more seriously. The first place to seek is the place where He communicates to us. The Bible. Read. Read. And read some more as you wait expectantly on the issues you have talked about with Him face to face.
  • Shamelessly. Distancing yourself from others because you feel all over wrong, because you have doubts is the wrong move. Shame is the all over I am wrong feeling we all get at some point in our lives. Shame isn’t all bad, its like an indicator light on the dash to get you to pay attention. We are made in God’s image but we are fallen so life will mean experiencing shame in various degrees. Jesus came and took care of sin, the primary reason for our shame, so that we could live shamelessly in fellowship with him. By shameless, I mean like children. Kids ask the darnedest questions because they are young and curious. They get answers too. Why? Because they ask the questions! If we are to come to Jesus like children, he wants us to come with those darnedest questions–the ones everyone is dying to ask but because we fear looking foolish, we don’t. That’s when we lose out. When we don’t ask the questions.

Am I saying you should doubt? No. Don’t seek it out. I’m saying if it comes to you, think about how you are doubting. Doubts should prompt us to search for God. He wants to be found.

Kind of like playing hide and seek with a child in some ways. The goal of most of my kids when we used to play hide and seek was to be found. They felt they had lost when I didn’t find them right away and would bark and cough to give away their position.

I suspect God does the same when we search for Him. He wants to be found so don’t stop seeking.

 

On Inheritance

I bet I’m not the only one who’s ever thought man, I wish some free money came my way. Lately, this crops up in my heart because I want to do something to my house like Joanna Gaines does to everyone’s house in Waco. Maybe I should move to Waco. Or stop watching Fixer Upper. 

In line with this thinking that I want to purge from my brain, I’ve been filing away thoughts on inheritance over the past few months. One of which comes from a book I received at Christmas.

C.S. Lewis wrote about his early experience as a Christian in his Reflections on the Psalms. Get this, for the whole first year after bowing his knee to God, C.S. Lewis didn’t know anything about the inheritance the Bible says awaited him in heaven. He didn’t become a Christ follower because he expected an awesome return on his life investment.

And, he doesn’t think that was a bad thing for his first year as a Christian.

It got me thinking again about inheritance.

What would it look like to serve someone based on a promised inheritance v. based on it being the right thing to do. Seems like C.S. Lewis bowed his knee in a much truer devotion than I usually do. He did not expect his life to get easier. Even called himself the most reluctant of converts. He expected no inheritance.

Then, there’s the prodigal brothers. The prodigal sons. I read the story a few more times. Both brothers received their inheritance in the beginning of the story. One brother took his. He owned it. He took it away and, then, he wasted it. He got to thinking as he was eating slop, my life would be better as a slave in my dad’s house. I can’t be a brother, but slavery is better than this. So, he goes back home prepared to serve as a slave.Actual Factual Slop. Yuck.

His older brother received his inheritance but stayed at home but not happily. He complains to his dad about how he never got to have a fattened calf with his friends. Wah, wah.

But, why not? Wasn’t the calf technically his? Hadn’t the father given his inheritance to him too?

The older brother didn’t ever seem to clue in that he owned the calf himself. He never took his inheritance. He never enjoyed being at home with his dad, it seems. He inherited but he didn’t own his inheritance. He could’ve invested it, stewarded it, spent it. Point is, he could’ve enjoyed it.

Neither brother lived out inheritance in a good way. One took it and wasted it. One didn’t take it and resented the lowly position he made for himself.

And neither one realized the true benefit and riches they had as sons. They had their father’s love. The one who wasted his inheritance didn’t lose his sonship. Neither did the one who labored reluctantly. Relationship and love was free for the taking all the time.

Oh, how things could be different if we really understood it’s not about the inheritance as much as being part of the family and all that brings with it when the family we are talking about is God’s family.

Anemic Prayer

I searched the house a few times. I’m the family sleuth, tracing steps, investigating, interrogating and usually successful at finding lost things. When two thorough searches of our apartment failed to unearth our nice camera, I started purposely ignoring the sick feeling in my stomach.

I think they call it denial?

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Finding a picture capturing themes of loss and grace is hard. So, here instead, is a photo taken with the lost camera last year.

For the next couple months, I occasionally thought back to all the hotels and houses we passed through in the last 3 months of our transient life. Five or six places to came to mind. The weariness of moving set in and mustering up the energy to call just never happened. I didn’t want to do anything about it. I expected to unearth it anytime I looked in a closet.

I never did. I let the case go cold but it bugged me to know it was out there somewhere.

Last week, I put my foot down. One last look. A kindergarten program will do that to moms. I prayed one of those passing plea types of prayers as I charged to the closet with purpose.

Please, Lord! If it’s here show me!

I found the strap first and pulled, disbelieving. Out tumbled the camera bag, Hidden in the closet behind my husband’s shirts for the last 2 months.
I sent an all caps text to my husband and parents. I FOUND THE CAMERA!

What gets me is that God honors that type of prayer. I’m amazed because He answered it and it felt like such an anemic prayer.

I get so wrapped up in all the correct, God-honoring ways to pray that I lose the fact that prayer is falling on God. It’s a dependent action to ask for something I can’t achieve myself.

Dependence isn’t my natural posture. I’m not naturally inclined to feel comfortable in a relationship that is pretty much one way-God giving to me.

Just in that revelation I see how much I want the God and me contract to have a place for me to earn some favors.

Grace? No place for that!

It’s refreshing to serve a God that gives grace and honors the desperate prayer.

Things Lost

After 12 years of constant interaction, my passport is a familiar sight. Until a few weeks ago that familiarity lulled me into forgetting the importance of my proof of identity and my permission slip stuck inside.20130719-135640.jpg

My husband’s passport went missing and the hoops we jump through right now to get a new one…well…let’s just say we planned to do other things with our summer. Instead he looks forward to multiple days carrying papers around that prove his identity so he can one day receive back official proof of his citizenship and permission to live in a foreign country. Most of the process involves just showing up at the right place with the right paperwork so the official with the big red stamp gets the pleasure of bringing it down with force on the properly filled out forms.

Some things go missing and I give them up quickly as lost. Other things I turn the house upside down for like those gold earrings I misplaced for a time. When I lose things I closely retrace my steps in my head. We lost a fancy camera at the airport once and I didn’t notice for a week. I gave it up for lost with a sad heart but still checked when I took another flight that next week. I received it back from lost and found with tears! Some things come back.

But the passport never came back. We looked and looked.  We asked.  People helped us.  We reluctantly returned home.  Then we called from home.  Then he went back to look himself.  Security officers showed him the surveillance video and he discovered why we never found it.  Someone took it off the floor where it dropped minutes after it landed.  A man ignorant of its importance or purpose.  A man who stood to gain nothing from his theft while it costs us much.  Our hope that it slid under a trash can vanished.  We lived through the time to search and entered the time to give up for lost.

Trading stories this past week with friends about things lost brought a smile to my heart as I saw more clearly.  In searching, in wading through bureaucracy, in looking for things lost I share in the things of the Lord just a bit.  An understanding enters my heart.  He searches too.  He searches for people…he seeks to give a regal identity to the lost.  He searched for me.

I do long for the day when passports and visas and proof of citizenship fade away but for now I remind myself of the importance of contemplating things lost as I fill out yet another form or look up yet another important address.

He searches for the lost.