The other day Pauline lost her key to our front door, and she turned the house upside down looking for it. It wasn’t in any of the obvious places (handbags, shelf in the hall etc.) so she looked everywhere else (kitchen cupboards, fridge, washing machine…) to no avail. We tried the church building late in the evening, but there was not a key in sight. Finally, with every possibility exhausted except that it had got lost when we were out for a walk, we resigned ourselves to its loss, along with the attached Tesco club card. Our only hope was that if anyone did find it, they would at least shop at Tesco and use our card to earn points for our account. Just before bed, Pauline went into the kitchen, and noticed that the small stack of flyers on the work surface which she had moved to one side during the search had slipped slightly…and there was the key just visible under the top sheet. Crisis over!
It’s true that small dramas so often turn into crises, especially when our frustration boils over into real anger or despair. Thankfully, no-one got hurt in this particular case as Matthew kept his head down and didn’t say anything unhelpful! But for Pauline it was a real worry, and she gave grateful thanks to God when the key was safely back where it should be. But whether it’s a lost item, an unhelpful conversation, or the prospect of a local lockdown, everything and anything can bring us to the point where we no longer have peace of mind. This is especially true at the moment, and until we bring ourselves to set aside our pride or fear, and tell each other how the issue is burdening us, we cannot rest. Once we have shared it with someone who understands, we can often put it aside and find life manageable again. And if the problem is subsequently solved, we can all share in the pleasure and relief.
Jesus understood this when he told his followers stories about a lost sheep and a lost coin, because he knew that what we value has deep significance for us, so that something apparently unimportant is still worth seeking and finding when it is lost. These were actually valuable items, but the owners still possessed many more of the same, so that an extensive search for the lost ones might have seemed more trouble than it was worth. Yet they searched with all their might and when they found what they were looking for they shared their joy with their neighbours and celebrated together. But Jesus also tells a third story, which explores the pain of a father whose most beloved son intentionally loses himself, so he can do nothing more except watch and pray that his boy will come to his senses and come home. Israelite fathers were not supposed to care about disrespectful children who had left them without a backward glance, so this story was shocking in its implication that to God we are of such immeasurable value that He seeks us with all His heart, and watches out for us until we turn back to Him and are found. When we do He celebrates, and all heaven with Him.
God knows and cares when we lose our peace of mind, as it is always precious to Him. Whatever the cause, let’s not be afraid to share our small dramas as well as our great crises with Him, and with each other, mindful that His heart and love are with us when we do. And when the crisis is past, and that which was lost is found, so that our peace is restored and life can begin again, let’s celebrate together.
With our love and prayers,
Matthew and Pauline