El Arroyo is a Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, Texas. I’ve never eaten there, but I follow them on social media because of the clever sayings they post on their outdoor sign. Their hilarious quotes have spawned books, magnets, and greeting cards. Recently, I laughed when I saw this one on a dishtowel: “Nothing is truly lost until your mom can’t find it.” And that is the truth in my experience.
I pride myself on my ability to locate most “lost” things in our home. Once, when I was quite agitated with my boys for losing something, I told my daughter Riley that looking for things that others have misplaced would be her lot in life as a woman and mother someday. She gave me a look of terror in response.
Jesus told a story about a woman looking for a lost object. He said, “[I]magine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God” (Luke 15:8-10 MSG). The lost silver coin was worth about a day’s wages. Jesus didn’t identify this woman as a mother, but I can’t help but imagine her as a mom whose child grabbed the coin without her knowledge and lost it. Today, the woman would text her friends frustrated about both the lost coin and the culprit kid and then again with relief when she finally found it.
No matter how the coin was lost, the woman panicked because the item of worth disappeared. Once, I looked down and noticed my engagement ring missing from my finger. I franticly searched everywhere. I got lucky when I found it in a plastic shopping bag. It had slipped off when I’d stuffed a bunch of clear wrapping from the dry cleaner into the larger bag. Relief flooded my system when I discovered the ring was not gone forever. I felt happy that I’d found the ring that meant so much to me.
We’ve all experienced the joy of finding something we thought was lost. But in these stories, we are the thing of value represented by the coin or, in my case, the ring. We may feel like we are lost, in the darkness, cut off from others. We wonder if anyone is looking for us. Maybe we believe shouldn’t be found after what we’ve done or said. That we are not worthy, and so we hide.
But we are never out of God’s sight. God knows where we are and will always seek a relationship with us. God is always present. We may try to isolate ourselves, but God refuses to give up on us. And when we finally stop running from God, come out of the shadows, and ask God for help, the celestial celebration begins. We were lost, but God waited patiently (or maybe impatiently) for us to recognize that his love was and is available.
If mom (me) can’t find it at our house, there’s a good chance it’s lost forever. But we are never, ever lost forever from God. God always has us in his view and eagerly waits to welcome us out of hiding into the light of his love.