You Cannot Be Lost Unless You Belong
Back in 1990 I accepted a position as a chaplain in a hospital in Corbin, Kentucky. While serving there my family and I took some vacation time to explore the various sights and sounds of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I recall the morning in Somerset, Kentucky very well. My wife and I and our two children, a son age nine and a daughter age five had stopped to get some breakfast at a local fast food restaurant while we waited for my wife's parents to rendezvous with us.
The weather that morning was cloudy with misting rain. My son had asked permission to go outside the restaurant to watch for his grandparents. We said he could go outside so out he went carrying my blue and white umbrella. After a few minutes we went out to check on him and he was no where to be found. I went all the way around the restaurant looking for my son but I could not find him anywhere. To say the least I was in quite a panic. I told my wife, who was also freaking out, to call the police and to stay here at the restaurant in case he comes back and that I would go looking for him.
It is an interesting encounter we as humans experience when we lose something of value. Because I was in an unfamiliar place all I could visualize was someone picking up my son and taking him away and I would never see him again. I kept running down the four lane highway that led toward the Kentucky Turnpike praying with every step and stopping along the way to ask if anyone happened to see a little boy passing by here carrying a blue and white umbrella. No one seemed to notice.
I recall reaching the entrance to the turnpike and looking up that road I noticed a vehicle coming toward me. I waved the driver down and as they stopped I asked this man and his wife if they had noticed a small boy carrying a blue and white umbrella walking on to the turnpike. They indicated that they had not seen a little boy walking on the turnpike. Then I told them that I have lost my son. I'm sure the shear panic expression on my face let them know that I was serious. I thanked them and went on to a service station and asked the attendant if he had seen my umbrella carrying son and he said, "Yes, as a matter of fact I did see a young boy walk by here a little while ago carrying a blue and white umbrella."
The service station man had a wrecker and I asked him if he minded driving me to the surrounding department stores to see if my son was in any of them. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I was encouraged that this man had seen my son but there were so many places he could be. As we continued to drive around the vicinity all of a sudden I heard voices calling out to get my attention. It was the man and woman that I had waved down as they were exiting the turnpike. There parked in front of a small furniture store was their vehicle and a police car and several people that unbeknownst to me had been assisting in the search. I walked in to the furniture store and there sat my son. To say the least, I was very glad to see him.
My reflection today consists of my newfound understanding of the meaning of the word lost. To be lost never decreases the value of that which is lost nor does it depreciate identity. My son never stopped being my son the whole time he was away from me. As a matter of fact my awareness of his value increased enormously. In the gospel of Luke chapter fifteen Jesus tells the three famous parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son in order to point out the value of the individual. The object in all three parables were found safe and sound indicating that you cannot be lost unless you belong. This raises the question as to when and to whom do we belong? It is my belief that we as humans were loved into being within the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because of our beginning in God he waits patiently for each of us to awaken to the revelation of our identity in Him. I can imagine God saying to us, "You are because I AM!" God's I Am-ness abides within each of us. When we become aware that each of us were sourced in God by his doing then it will not be difficult to realize just how much we are loved and how much we belong!