Thursday, October 8, 2009

One Little Lost Book

If each book were a soldier, our living room would be one of the safest places in the state.

When I sit in the middle of the room, I'm literally surrounded by an army of books. A squadron of school books takes up one of three cushions of the couch. A teetering stack of fall-themed books guards the end table. Three bookshelves of "don't touch" mommy and daddy books hide stealthily behind a La-z-boy. Wyatt's books flank the gas fireplace. Baby board books divide their forces between the hearth and small shelves beneath the TV. And a bag of library books stands at attention beside the train table.

This room won't appear in your next edition of Better Homes and Gardens. Too many books are still scattered across the floor as I sit and write this post. Too much energy and imagination remain in the air even though the little ones have long since been tucked in bed down the hall.

On a regular day, the twins regularly grab a chunky board book in pudgy fingers to wave in my face until I stop to read it. Emerson has even learned to say "baa" for book and smilingly squeals with happy delight when I respond, "Do you want me to read it?"

Long ago, I gave up counting how many books I read each day. All three kids know many of them by heart. Sometimes, though, Wyatt remembers one part of the book and not the title like when he asked for Pooh and the echo. Hmmm....took me two weeks to realize he was talking about Pooh's Best Place, complete with the requested echoing cave.

But yesterday, we had a book problem. As Wyatt unloaded his stack of ready-to-be-checked-out books onto the counter, the librarian informed me that we hadn't returned Pickles to Pittsburgh. Ok. "I know I returned 13 of them. But, if you say so, it must still be at home. I'll check."

A library book was missing. An it's-not-ours-so-don't-chew-on-it book.

So while the children napped, I frantically turned the house upside down. An army of one, I took my choice weapon--a Maglite flashlight--and moved every piece of furniture that I couldn't see under (including the couch). I then went through every book on every shelf, which was no small task.

Still no book.

Hours later, I called the library to see if they'd made a mistake, if perhaps the computer had malfunctioned and not scanned in the book properly. Could they please check the shelf?

If I had heard the panic in my voice, I'd have checked the shelf. But the lady looked at my account and said there was no need. The librarian had already figured out the computer's error when she went to place the "returns" back on the shelf. The lost book was found--at the library, where it belonged.

Thankfully, I was too relieved to be irritated with the woman on the phone. But it wasn't too long before I realized I had just given up an entire two hours hunting a lost book when I should have been working or napping.

And as I grumbled to myself, God immediately brought to my mind the Bible story about the lost coin. I looked it up:

"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15: 8-10).

Ooh. That hit hard. I'm in the middle of a training course about doing evangelism the way Jesus modeled in Scripture. The first step is not to go out witnessing but to work on my own heart. I must first develop a compassionate heart for each lost person, a heart that would rather risk personal embarrassment or rejection rather than see one person go to hell.

A lost book. A lost coin. A lost soul. Each one important to God.

A computer malfunction?

I think not.

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