Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Modern Parable of the Lost Coin

My father said he was jolted out of a deep sleep at 1:30 a.m., his unconscious brain somehow realizing what his conscious mind had not--the ring on his right hand was missing.

I spoke with my mother a few short hours later.  Both parents had already spent much of the morning searching through a half acre of closely cropped grass.  

Nothing.  From her tone, it was clear she had given up and had moved on to another Saturday project.

As with most things we lose, it's not the value on the open market so much as it is the sentimental value of what has been a daily part of you over the course of time.  Thirty some odd years, I remember my father buying the small, gold nugget ring and personalizing it by adding several very tiny diamonds across the top.  As a child, I never thought it as pretty as my mother's emerald or wedding diamond.  Still, it was as much a part of my daddy as his pocket knife. 

Phone to my ear, I listened to mother talk about some future generation finding the ring and thinking it a great treasure, never knowing its true story.  My heart sank with hers at the impossibility of finding such a needle in the haystack of her backyard.  But immediately after that thought came one of many popcorn prayers asking that God help us do the impossible--recover the ring for my father.

By lunchtime, my mind had selected dozens of hiding places where I had seen him take off his work gloves the day before.  A click through yesterday's photos narrowed that window of time even further, showing him ringless by the time cupcakes were served for supper.

Logically, twelve eyes are better than four, so I loaded up my three children, and we drove to Grandmama's house to join in a search my mother and father had long ago stopped.

An hour later, we had come up empty.  By then, my children had given up, too.  Their sounds of happy laughter only increased my frustration at being unable to help my parents. 

"Are you still looking!?" asked my youngest, Emerson.

I wordlessly glared at him and kept walking, hunched low to the ground, sweeping my hand through patches of clover in search of that glint of gold, but all I found were a few pieces of plastic and a metal bottle cap that had made my heart rush for a minute when it caught the late afternoon sun's brilliant light.

Minutes later, my oldest, Wyatt, took up the complaining.  "When can we leave?  When will you give up?"

I answered honestly--I didn't know.  But not yet.  I reminded him of the woman in Scripture who tore apart her house until she found the one coin she had lost.  I remembered how  last October, I had found a lost a necklace and pendant that one of my children had knocked into a basket on the floor.

This time, though, I wasn't sure.  The search area outdoors was a lot bigger than inside my house. 

As I walked to the front yard again, I continued to look and pray.  I thanked God that He had heard my prayer like He had heard Daniel's even though it had taken many days for the angel to come to him with an answer.  I told him it was ok if someone else made the discovery because I didn't want the glory; I simply wanted it found--by anybody--because it meant something to my daddy.  And I told God I would be sad, but I would love Him just as much, even if it were never found.

"Have you found it yet," interrupted Wyatt again.  "I'm hot.  I'm tiiiiiiiiired.  Can we go home now!?"  He sighed at my silent answer and huffed off.

I kicked through some pine straw right beside their gray cat, Dusty, and moved to the front yard as my daddy came to join me.

Suddenly, he called my name.  "JenniferLook."

There, right by the cat, inches from where I had been kicking in the pine straw, a circle of gold shone.

"If you hadn't come, I wouldn't have looked again," he said, placing it into the familiar groove of his finger. We hugged and joyfully went to show Grandmama and three children what God had done. What was lost was now found.

When I pulled into the drive back home, my father in law turned off the water hose and walked toward the van.  "Did you find it?"

"Yes.  In a pile of pine straw."

He shook his head and smiled.  "A miracle."

At home, I took out The Bible and opened it again to Luke 15, reading aloud to my three children the story I had recounted them earlier.

Twice in six months, God has presented this same parable to me.  I'm still not sure why.  What I do know, though, is that He is Sovereign over all.   And for that, I am thankful.