Want to know a good time to lose stuff? When you're moving. Mercy, is that a good time to lose stuff.
Exhibit A: our son's bathing suit. He needs Speedo jammers for swim team, and last year's was thin to the point of (ahem) a small hole or two. Though he only needs a Speedo for meets, it was clear a new one was a must. We're moving this summer and the kids are only swimming half the meets... so: 3 meets, one $35 speedo. Dislike that math. Nevertheless, we got one. We had it in hand for maybe a week when, lo and behold, we left the darn thing in New England while visiting family. My kind folks duly shipped it down, with it hitting our mailbox minutes before we left the house for our first meet. Whew. Next morning our house was full of movers packing up all our earthly possessions, and I was corralling up items into a Big Huge Pile, roped off from the moving fray. I hand-carried the kids' swim gear, including the infernal Speedo, to the Big Pile. Two days later, our house empty and vacated, I was organizing stuff in the house our kind vacationing friends were letting us use. The Speedo was absolutely nowhere. Fully absent and MIA. I looked and looked and looked. Then I became livid. Unreasonably livid. How dare that t*j*~@H Speedo up and wander off, when buying it in the first place had been an unwanted (and borderline unnecessary) chore? And, lost again? When I'd worked so hard to keep it found?
I was so mad I went running. Cool down, get some perspective. Running usually does that in me. It seemed I was using the missing Speedo as the container - I could see it now - to hold all this crazy season's angst and frustrations. Losing it made me feel a loss of control, and like a failure. Unable.
Lost items get a lot of coverage in the New Testament. People in Jesus' day felt no less annoyance and anguish in losing stuff than we do . Jesus tells three lost-and-found stories... One about a sheep that goes missing, and the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find it. One about a woman who loses a coin in her house and turns the place upside down till she, overjoyed, finally finds it. One about a son who's lost to his dad but eventually returns to him. Main point throughout: Jesus is The Great Finder, and we're precious stuff that gets found and reclaimed by Him. The uniting that happens between him and us when the finding happens is long-sought, and joy-inducing.
So the whole "lost/found" concept's pretty important. It bears some reflection.
To lose virtually anything is a frustrating experience. It just is. Trying to find stuff takes so much time, and the minutes spent looking are miserable ones. But when it comes right down to it, losing some stuff really matters, and losing other stuff doesn't. Lost things worth getting upset over? A relationship. Faith. A vocation. Health. One's sense of self. Integrity. The soul - most of all. These kinds of things are worth spending blood, sweat, and tears (and a heck of a lot of prayer) on. We all know this intrinsically, even without Jesus teaching and modeling it for us.
But if we're going to be rightly focused on the "lost" bucket that holds the most important things in life - and to God - then we can't be in histrionics over the"lost" bucket that holds the comparatively unimportant stuff. Like a bathing suit. Look hard for it, feel annoyance over it - fine. Then move on. I got myself there, the Speedo-less evening of my run... So, $35 be damned (despite my frugal ways), I bought another pair. Exhale.
But a move's still a move, and I think I mentioned it's a time rife for losing things, yes? The next day we realized the movers had packed our car title into our household goods, and without it my husband couldn't pick up his car upon his arrival in Crete. Annoyance and regret levels far higher than the silly speedo... commensurate with, of course, the amount of inconvenience and money this loss would cost us. It was the 4th of July weekend and the DMW was closed; my husband would only have a day or two in which to get a replacement before he flew. DMV's are not noted (perhaps you know?) for their efficiency.
We took deep breaths and prayed and tried not to stew; I reminded myself of the Speedo-induced conclusions I'd reached the day prior. Because even a lost title, with all its frustration and possible downstream problems, sits squarely in the 'comparatively unimportant' bucket. So I sat with my weekend task list of praying, emotion-wrestling, and waiting.
Tuesday morning came and the DMV was (wonder of wonders) uniquely helpful and efficient in producing, right on the spot, a new title for my husband. It was of course a complete relief, and we thanked God. He knows and cares about the little things, he meets our needs, and he does answer prayer... These things are all true. And it's so easy to see and know these things when the lost item does get found, as it sometimes does. So much harder to see them when it doesn't.
Because sometimes it doesn't. We don't get to call the shots (and the whole lesson of how infuriating it is to deal with lost items is that we want to call them. Oh how we want to call them... want never to lose anything, or else to have all our lost stuff quickly and easily be found. Want the seamless, trouble-free life.) The life of faith doesn't work like that. God's God, after all, and we're not. He's in charge of the lost and found.
More than that, he's the ultimate Found. I think of Paul, in the end, and his, "I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ... for whose sake I have lost all things." Paul's talking about laying down the whole kit-and-caboodle, being willing to go in for loss down to zero (as Jesus himself did) because He himself is the treasure. Everything else is window dressing.
Wish all the ruminations left me convinced that my future annoying losses will meet a calm, surrendered version of myself, perfectly able to keep stuff adeptly in the "comparatively unimportant" bucket in my perspective. Hopefully they at least help as the Spirit pulls us onward toward wholeness and the day when we see ourselves, with our own eyes, fully found in Christ.
PS. The package arrived and I gave permission to my once-again Speedo-clad son to cut off the tags. The same hour he (you know what's coming) found the old Speedo. In a place I'd looked the first day. At least three times. Classic. Humbling thing, this lost-and-found routine... All part of the maturing process, I think?