A few nights ago I was leaving the church rather late – about 8:30pm or so. It had been a long day, I was tired, and I was ready to get home and stare blankly at the television and think of nothing for a few minutes before heading to bed and starting all over again the next day. On the way home my appetite directed me to a convenient drive-thru to carbo-load so that I could have the fortitude to make it home! Placing my order I reached for my wallet in anticipation of the bill. It was there I discovered…
…my wallet was gone. Actually it is not a wallet. It is really just a glorified money clip, thin on money, but thick with cards, slips of paper, maybe a photo or two. At that point I simply assumed I left the wallet at home. Perhaps, I thought, in my haste to leave that morning I just forgot it. Maybe I absentmindedly placed it with the coffee beans or in the refrigerator (I have done stranger things). When I got home (hungry and not a hamburger in sight) I could not find my wallet anywhere. Not in the car, not in the fridge, not on the counter where I usually keep it. The wallet was not at home. The next day I discovered it was not in my office either.
It was then I began to mentally retrace my steps wondering where I could have left my wallet. “When was the last time I needed, I used my wallet? Just how long had my wallet gone missing and where on earth could it be?” I checked online and knew that no one else was using my bank card or credit card, so I felt some assurance that it had not been stolen. I was getting worried, of course, that it would eventually get found and who knows what would happen. An empty money clip and a stolen identity are just some of the possible nefarious outcomes of a missing wallet.
By mid-day, just when I was contemplating calling the bank and cancelling the cards and standing in the line to get a new license (yes, I had been driving that day without proper documentation), one of our custodians found the wallet, and without checking to see who it belonged to, brought it the receptionist desk for the lost and found. Whew! Now all is right with the world, at least my narrow part of it.
What this has led me to ponder – and we preachers love to ponder, especially when deadlines are approaching – is how long something can go missing before you ever notice. Usually something is not missed until you need it and then it becomes a consuming value. This happens with relationships as well as with missing things. Someone mentions a name and you think, “What ever happened to her?” Or you come across a picture or a random thought and it occurs to you that someone is missing.
Have you ever gone missing in someone’s life and no one missed you? I hear stories of children being left behind at stores, restaurants and, yes, even church. Why is it than when something goes missing its value increases? Why do we have to wait until relationships go missing, before their value increases?
Know of anybody who is MIA in your life? Jesus made a big deal about the lost and found parts of life: missing coins, missing sheep, and a missing prodigal all were met with great celebrations in the finding. I am glad along the way people have found me, even when I did not know I was lost. Great is the celebration when a relationship is restored!
The community of faith that is the church is where we celebrate every relationship as a significant relationship. May we never wait until someone goes missing before we appreciate their real value.
Glad my wallet was found. Better still, I am glad someone found me.
But you, O LORD, know me; You see me and test me– my heart is with you. (Jeremiah 12:3)