It was gone. I had gotten my coat dirty and just threw it in the wash to get clean without even thinking. Next time I needed to wear a coat I threw it on, put my hands in my pockets, and immediately got that sick feeling. You know, that feeling deep in your gut when something precious is gone. Lost? Torn up? Destroyed? It doesn’t matter, that feeling is unmistakable. Not only in your gut, but all over. Because it was lost to me.
It didn’t look important, in fact to anyone else it probably looked like a silly scrap of paper with a few easily replaceable words “I Love You Papa”. But I had carried that note around for over a year. Every time I felt that piece of paper, pulled it out, and looked at it I was reminded of a little girl who thought I was special. The loss of that note was wrenching. I consoled myself with the thought that she would be happy to write me another if I just asked. But it would never be that original note. And after a while, life continued on like it always does.
Then, just yesterday, I was cleaning out my computer bag after a trip and found it. The note! The joy I felt was like a hot searchlight had lit up my soul. My heart was happy. All over a little scrap of paper. But that scrap of paper was the essence of love.
In Luke 15 Jesus goes through a list of stories that show the joy of being found. The one sheep that was found, the one coin that was found, the son that made his way home, all filled with that heart wrenching feeling of loss. The precious item was lost, gone, maybe destroyed. But then, just like my note, they were found, the searing joy lit up the very angels in heaven.
God had come to find them. The ones who needed him the most. The sinners, the ones put down by the religious leaders, the marginalized. The ones who wrote to God in their hearts and their cries. Notes that God sees as the essence of love. The joy of heaven exploded into the world. And what happens in every story? God throws a party! The joy that He feels is so overwhelming that it just has to be shared. The joy that makes my happiness at finding that note again seem tiny.
So in this one small way, I get a glimpse of God’s joy when He finds the notes I write to tell him I love Him.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:23