Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lost and Found

Maybe you’ve done it, too -- been stung by your tendency to try and do too many things at once. This week, my multitasking caught up with me. In rushing between too many jobs at once, I lost track of all of them!

Our school sells gift cards to make money for special projects. I’m happy to support that program, especially with grocery gift cards. Preparing to have company over for lunch this Sunday, I ran into Shop ‘n Save to pick up a few things, sailed through the aisles, bolted up to the checkout, grabbed the gift card in my wallet, and, upon the ka-ching of the register, handed over the card. Oops…only $4.27 left on it. How embarrassing! With two people waiting behind me, I dashed out to the car and ran back in with the other card, much relieved. I knew it had $100 on it; I hadn’t used it yet, and it rang up with no problem. Fortunately the women behind me were ok with my fiasco, saying not to worry about it (they were great spokespeople for whatever churches they went to that morning!), and I continued on my way rejoicing.

Guests were waiting with my husband at the house. We all unloaded the car, and I quickly prepared a tasty and pleasant lunch. We laughed and visited, and the rest of the meal went off without a hitch.

But that’s not the end of the story. Three days later, I stopped past the same store for a few items, gift card again in hand. I handed over the card, knowing I was covered because I only used $9 from it last time. “You have a zero balance,” the checkout clerk said sweetly. What?! I couldn’t have a zero balance. As I paid with a credit card, I was beyond perplexed. I stopped by the business counter on the way out of the store to see if we could figure out what happened to the $91 on that card. The assumption quickly became that I was still using the first card; the second card had gone missing. All they could do was give me an office number to call.

After explaining my dilemma on the phone, with no receipts to back up my story, I figured I’d lost a lot more than a year’s worth of coupons! But the Shop ‘n Save office representative, Marsha, took a personal interest in my supposedly tossed or lost card and went to work. Two days later, I noticed a plastic shopping bag in my car trunk. Inside the bag was not only the grocery receipt showing the two card numbers I’d used, but also the missing card with all the credit on it! I called Marsha to learn that she’d somehow traced down the card number and was ready to mail me a new one with $91 credit.

Everybody needs a lost and found story with a good ending now and then, right? I can’t count the number of times I’ve lost things and memories I needed back. I even lost my three-year-old once for 15 minutes when she hid in a round rack of clothes in the department store and fell asleep. Talk about feeling helplessly frantic!

Obviously, the stories don’t all end with joyful reunions. On my refrigerator, I have a picture of a man trudging through a snowy forest of enormous trees, a child on his shoulders, his wife behind them clutching a bundled baby in her arms. The caption reads, “An Albanian Kosovar couple carry their children through the woods on their way to join a group of several thousand refugees on the Macedonian border, as they try to escape what is viewed as ethnic genocide ordered by Yugoslav President Milosevic.” I’ve prayed for them for years as “lost.” Did they make it, all four of them? Are they ok today?

Whatever the reason we lose or are “lost,” I take comfort in how many times Jesus refers to Himself as a seeker of the lost. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves 99 sheep who are fine to seek the one that is lost and in danger. He watches and guides us, and He wants our eyes to be on Him, too. God knows where all of your lost items wound up. Can He direct you to them? Yes. Will He? I don’t know. I do know, though, that He promises to be with us always, even to the end of the world. That helps me remember that we’re not in this alone.

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