"Oh where are they?"
I panicked as I began to run around the next aisle. The department store, which previously was filled with wonderful things for a seven year old to see, touch, and play with, suddenly became a large and scary place. I had thought my parents were right behind me, but somehow I had wandered away from them. I frantically ran from aisle to aisle as tears began to stream down my face.
I didn't know what to do. I began to cry out loud, just hoping and hoping. Then I had a bright idea. I remembered that we had come in a car, and that car was in the parking lot. I would run out to the car and wait for them to come out. I quickly ran out to the parking lot to where I thought the family car was. It wasn't there. Was this the right place or did they forget me? I became very afraid and began to think of home. Would I ever see it again? I walked back into the store crying out loud for someone to help me and take me home.
"…he became frightened, … he cried out, "Lord, save me! (Matt 14:30 NASB)."
Apparently a friendly store clerk had noticed that I was lost. Lost. I never knew quite what that meant. I got a small taste of it that day. He gently took me by the hand over to the counter where he worked. He picked me up and sat me on his lap while he called for my parents over the intercom. My crying had by this point quieted to an occasional sniffle. Could that intercom really reach my parents? Would it really help to bring me back to them?
"Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.' (John 14:6 NASB)"
A few moments later, I saw them. I jumped down out of that man's lap and sprinted into my Father's arms. He swooped me up and sat me on my favorite place, his shoulders. I heard my mother tell the clerk that they had thought I was right behind them and didn't realize I had wandered. Then I learned that they were only in the next aisle! They were never that far away, I just had to know where to look.
But for now, I was overjoyed to be sitting on my Father's shoulders.
"Are we going home now Dad?" I asked.
"Yes son, we are going home." He replied happily.
"When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing (Luke 15:5 NASB)."
Years later, as I reflect on that experience, I recall the emotions that went along with both the words "lost" and "home." One is filled with urgency. The other is filled with peace. One is filled with despair. The other is filled with joy. One is filled with emptiness. The other is filled with the fullness of the Father.
I am so glad I know the way home. But, like that child years ago, there are many who don't know the way home to the Father. God's mission for me is to be like that store clerk and help show the way to God through Christ so others can find the way home as well.