But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
Do you ever forget where you park your car when you go shopping? I have. The ironic thing is, though, I'm more prone to "lose" my car in the relatively small parking lot of our local Publix than I am at Costco or any other big box store.
There are two reasons for this. Number one: As I drive a modestly-sized Scion, its whereabouts is easily concealed by any truck or SUV parked next to it. The Publix lot, being of insignificant size, poses no problem for me locating it in a short span of time. Number two: When I park at Costco with its HUGE (my word for the year) lot, and rarely spaces available anywhere near the store, I am oh, so careful to note where I've parked my car relative to the entrance. Because I'm extra conscious of location, finding my Scion after my shopping trip is always a breeze.
And it is no different during my last venture to Costco on my monthly run. I find a space, take stock of my surroundings, grab my Costco I.D., our debit card, my list, the keys, lock the car, and I'm off to the races.
Maybe it's because the store is uncomfortably crowded on this day. Or that it's taking me longer than expected to score the items I need. Or that the checkout lanes are monstrously long. Whatever the reason, by the time I exit the store and set out confidently toward my car, it isn't long before I realize the unthinkable.
It's. NOT. Where. I. Left. It!!!
My mind begins to race, entertaining a whole host of illogical and panic-inducing scenarios, while my body fries in the 100+ degree heat radiating off the asphalt. It has to be here! Could someone have actually stolen it? My keys are right here in my hand! Oh, great! My purse AND my phone are in the car. All my cash and credit cards . . . I can't even call for help! Is this how Alzheimer's starts? Will I end up like Dad? Oh, please, Lord, please! Where is my car?
Roving hither and yon like a mad woman, crazily willing my Scion to miraculously appear, God grants me a saving thought of clarity. You simply forgot where you parked. Go! Look! With a combined wave of determination and perspiration, I push my cart up, up, up the hill, hoping beyond hope that when I turn the next corner, my car will be in plain sight.
Oh, joy! Rapture! There is my sweet, silver Scion parked exactly where I didn't remember leaving it. As tears of relief fill my eyes, I'm so grateful for the sunglasses I'm wearing. Over and over and over again, with every sweaty step I take, I thank God that what I thought was lost has now been found.
"Losing" my car on this day called to mind the verse above from the Gospel of Luke. When we wander away from God's will, when we stray like errant sheep, He calls us back to Himself, and rejoices when we, like the Prodigal Son, return to His open arms. There in God's embrace, we find our hope, our comfort, and our purpose.
And we can rest in His peace, knowing we are never separated from His presence.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.