Today marks a great day for me, and yet it is still very early in the morning. My prodigal cell phone has been returned to me, albeit after going missing in action for over a week. It has a new scratch or two, the keypad cover is tarnished, and of course the battery is dead. But I am in the process of charging it and have already sent several text messages to friends and family, advising them that I can be reached again as needed. Some of those messages were sent to people I know in McNeill, Carriere, and Picayune. Another message will travel as far as Hattiesburg; thanking the person responsible for its safe return. One particular text is going to travel at the speed of light to Tanzania – my boss is over there on safari and he will be glad to know the phone has been found because, after all, it is a company phone. I’m sending these messages for others to share in the joy I am feeling this morning, even if it is for something as inconsequential as a cell phone.
The odds were stacked against its safe return from the start. I was on a fishing trip last week in Port Sulphur, Louisiana when I inadvertently left the phone on a night stand by my bed. It was not until I arrived in Picayune that I realized the phone was missing and immediately began making frantic phone calls from my office in an effort to locate it. Luckily, with the help of a friend in Hattiesburg who had shared the trip with me, we were notified that one of the guides had discovered the phone not too long after we had left. He agreed to mail the phone to my friend in Hattiesburg, who in turn would use his internal company mail service to dispatch the phone to me down in Picayune. In a roundabout way, I would get my phone in a few days and all would be well in my world again.
Things did not go as planned and the phone did not leave Port Sulphur until Friday; three days after it had been lost. But I was assured the phone would be delivered by Monday with no problems and no stress. I did not have a phone for communication with my job over the weekend, but that wasn’t all bad and I made do in the interim. If they needed me, they could get in touch with me via 'some other means'. Monday came; the phone arrived in Hattiesburg and was placed in the courier bin for delivery to me the following day. Tuesday morning arrived… no phone. By Wednesday afternoon we were ready to shake down the messenger service as there was no word on when they would make the delivery, and worst of all, they could not seem to find it. Finally that evening they called and reported they had located my phone; it had slipped between the seats in the delivery vehicle and had been lost yet again. The phone was waiting for me, along with a profusely apologetic courier, when I arrived at the plant this morning. Smiling, I shook his hand, the saga of the missing phone and all of the associated stress disappearing as I cradled the phone in my hand for the first time in well over a week.
You see, had the phone not been returned, I would have been required by my company to replace it using my own hard-earned money. I would have lost all of my contacts and some important notes and other data I keep (not such a great idea) in the phone’s memory card. It’s an iPhone, so there was also a good deal of music stored in the phone that I’d accumulated over the past year. In short, it would have been a problem to recover all of the things I had lost. But the phone was indeed found, and life is good once again with everything back to normal and in its place. For that reason, I’m sharing my good news with others, even if it sounds like no big deal due to the final results. Of course you may be thinking, "But it’s just a stupid phone, right?"
Jesus spoke of rejoicing over finding things that were lost: “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” See, it’s not so silly or frivolous to get excited when you recover something that was important to you after it has been lost. The value is truly in the mind of the owner in those particular circumstances. You do your utmost to find those lost things that are important to you, and will not rest until you’ve done so.
Jesus was using the parable of the woman’s silver to illustrate a very important point – a point that can be lost on the reader if you leave it as simply a woman with ten silver coins that lost one and had to search for it. The whole idea of the story is the joy she felt when she found it. It wasn’t merely enough that she had found the missing coin; she wanted to share her good news with others. Hers was a pure joy. We do not know how the others perceived her sudden happiness and there is always a chance they could have considered the missing coin as something miniscule or something that could have merely been replaced had she been unsuccessful in her search and rescue effort. But I choose to believe they were happy for her, because they understood that it meant everything to her.
Jesus closed His story with an amazing comparison for us to ponder: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of G_d over one sinner that repenteth.” As much as the coin meant to the woman, and as important as finding my lost phone was to me, the search for lost souls is even more important to G_d. We simple, frail human beings, with all of our scratches, tarnished imperfections, and dead batteries mean everything to Him. He sacrificed it all, including His only Son, just to find us when we were lost. And even the angels rejoice when He reclaims us and brings us back home where we belong.