More Found than Lost

boy in curtains courtesy of

Twenty years ago today, we lost our oldest son. Luckily, it was only for a very short time, and it happened to be at my youngest brother’s wedding reception (Happy 20th anniversary, Matt and Beth!).

We were enjoying ourselves at the reception, as much as the parents of two toddlers can in a large, crowded, open room. My husband was holding the younger son, and the older one was by his side as he chatted with some friends. This was my opportunity to eat (as any mother of a toddler knows), so I wolfed down my hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed some adult conversation at a table nearby.

Shortly after I was finished, my husband came over, still holding the two-year-old, and said, “Where’s Quentin?”

“I thought you had him,” I said accusingly.

“Well, I thought you had him,” he retorted back, as if our oldest son was a hot potato we were tossing back and forth.

Panic set in immediately as we combed the large reception hall which was located on a college campus.  Did he wander outside? Did someone abduct him? The worst case scenarios swirled in my head, bringing tears to my eyes.

My brother Tim went outside to check out the perimeter of the building, and I saw him through a large window nearby. He stopped, and then he pointed at the window. I rushed over, and there was our oldest son, standing just inside the long drapes and looking out the window.

That feeling of losing someone I love (even for a short time) has not left me, and when I read about how Jesus responded to the tax collector Zacchaeus, saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV), I understand at least a little about the love and passion that the Father, Son, and Spirit have for humanity.

This seeking and saving of the lost through the story of Zacchaeus offers us a broader view of how we are lost and saved, rather than just the saving grace of the cross. In Zacchaeus’s case, he was “lost” by being a tax collector, despised by his own people and community of faith, but Jesus’s acceptance of him ultimately began the reconciliation of Zacchaeus with his people. Jesus’s love transformed Zacchaeus and made him want to change, giving back the monies he unfairly took. His “repentance,” in this case, meant he was found and restored to himself and to his people.

Jesus didn’t wait until Zacchaeus changed to eat with him, to show him love. When Jesus “found” Zacchaeus, he welcomed him. Just as in the other parables about losing and finding, we can see that even in our “lostness,” we are as precious as a lost sheep, a lost coin, or a lost son. Though some may think the Father is looking to punish those who have erred, Jesus says the truth is “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents [or is found and restored] than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent [or who never wandered off in the first place]” (Luke 15:7). For the Father, Son, and Spirit, fellowship and reconciliation between God and humanity, as well as among humanity itself, is the primary goal, not retribution.

Even as my husband, my brothers, and my entire family rejoiced when we found our lost son, so do God and the angels in heaven celebrate when a person who has forgotten his or her true self as a beloved child of God suddenly “remembers.” We are a special treasure, and when we live loved (like we are), we are transformed into our best and truest selves.

~by Nan Kuhlman

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