The sun finally cut through the silky grey, that canvas of rain-sky that is dark enough to ruin your mood but light enough to cause your eyes to narrow.
Sun had come.
I walked down the driveway, an east-west wind pushing the neighbors lilacs along under my nose and it felt like spring. It felt like a season that I had waited for all winter long.
I took the first stride of what I hoped would be a long sunny run when I saw a glint of silver on the pavement. Two lengths of black with a silver medallion in the middle, a fake stone dangling just right of center.
It was my daughter's "Friend" bracelet, given to her by...wait for it...a friend.
I knew she enjoyed the bracelet immensely, so finding it gave me an extra bit of breath. I didn't know if she realized it was gone, I didn't know how long it had sat on our driveway under threat of cars in reverse and dogs on the prowl.
Maybe she had cried, opening the drawer and finding it missing.
Perhaps she had turned the room upside down, searching for it.
The resignation would set it - It's not here - and the stages of grief would begin.
I took the bracelet inside and laid it on the counter, anticipating a tearful reunion and a hero's sonnet.
She said, "Oh, huh. I wondered where that went."
I had expected more.
But that's sometimes how it happens when things get lost.
We find and lose things all the time.
We lose our way, we lose our perspective, we lose our voice. We lose control. We lose the plot. We lose our temper.
Then we find it again. Sometimes with fanfare, sometimes with gentle happiness.
I occasionally hear the word "lost" moving from a status to a condition.
In other words, we aren't lost in the moment, in some ways of thinking, but instead we occupy a conditional space of "lostness."
Lostness begins to mean hopeless, corrupted, broken beyond repair. I admit that this is an emotional reality (I feel lost, broken, hopeless) for people but I wonder about normalizing it as a "class" or "type" of people?
In other words, when my wife and I were navigating the Metro rail system in Paris and got off at the wrong stop because we completely misinterpreted the map, we were lost.
Yet that didn't make us evil, horrible, broken, and without value.
It just meant we were in a place where we shouldn't be and didn't want to be, thinking thoughts that didn't reflect reality ("this is our stop"), and taking actions that would not move us toward where we longed to go. We had to rethink our strategy of where we were and how to get where we were supposed to go.
Because we were lost.
We also had to fight the thoughts of "Three advanced degrees between us and we can't ride public transit - how stupid are we?!" because frankly that thinking is a) corrosive and b) completely inaccurate.
Somehow or another we've told the story that God sees lost people as without value until they take the steps to get found.
But what if, in the eyes of our Creator:
Lost bracelets still look beautiful.
Lost keys still unlock cars.
A lost temper can be regained and refreshed.
What if lost simply means they aren't where we should be? Where they were made to be? Where their value is magnified and fulfilled?
What if the mystery of God's grace isn't his well-executed and systematic tolerance of those of us who barely skate out of lostness because of Jesus, saying "Whew, that was a close one?"
What if the mystery of God's grace is the actually the alignment of all divine resources to chase people soaking with value & beauty that have dropped between the "car seats" of life?
What if Jesus' death was, among other things, a radical and graceful statement that the "grave" and all it's dark tales isn't where lost people belong - it isn't what they deserve?
So when I hear the phrase "lost people matter to God" I wholeheartedly agree because that's me from time to time. I lose things like my way and find myself on the driveway.
Then a light glints off of the bracelet, unbroken and full of purpose, lying on the driveway and in turn it comes back to where it should be.
We all get lost from time to time.
God brings lost things back to where they belong.
So where are you supposed to be today? Where do you belong? Where is that center, that foundation of "found-ness" with God that is aching from your absence?
As in the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son (Luke 15) - things often find their way out of place, out of sight, into dark corners whether they don't belong.
Then Jesus says, "You don't have to stay here. This isn't where you belong." It is the younger son "coming to himself" (Lk. 15:17), for sure.
So where are you today? Where do you hear the voice of Jesus calling you back to where you belong?
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