I was in tears. It was our first Christmas in a new home. I couldn't wait to deck the halls, decorate the tree, and bring a little bit of the holiday into every room.
But something was missing. Amidst the many boxes I'd brought from storage, I couldn't find our stockings. Had they been store-bought, I would have chalked it up as a loss and purchased six more. But the stockings hanging on our mantle every Christmas were labors of love. I had needlepointed each one over the course of four years. Though the kids were young, they seemed to have a grasp on the care that went into each stitch. How would I break the news to my family that the stockings were lost?
I pictured our Christmas treasures at a dump, buried under mounds of trash. Perhaps they'd been tossed out accidentally during our move. It would have been an easy mistake for someone to make. The stockings were stored in a heavy duty black trash bag to protect them from moths and other critters.
My husband walked into the living room and noticed my tearful state. I explained the reason for my mood. "Have you looked everywhere? Maybe they got tucked away someplace else. Think."
I dried my eyes, though my heart was still racing with emotion. Think! Where else could I have put them? My mind travelled to two cupboards in the hallways. But when I looked, I came up empty-handed. Then I remembered, I had stored some seasonal items under our bed. I darted to our bedroom and began pulling out garment bags, storage boxes, and a black trash bag. The shape and feel to the bag spelled success. I'd found my missing treasure. I ran to my husband, clutching the six stockings to my heart. "Look! I found them!"
I know how it feels to find something valuable you thought was lost. A timely revisit to Luke Chapter 15 reminded me ~ So did a shepherd who lost one of his sheep. And the woman with ten silver coins who lost one knew, too. More importantly, God knows. When one lost soul is found, there is unimaginable rejoicing and celebration. It doesn't matter the condition the person is in when He finds them. He smiles with arms open wide and exclaims, "My child was lost, but now he's found!"
I watched my daughter hang our stockings on the mantle this week. I couldn't help but reflect back to the day when I thought they were lost for good...and the joy I felt when I found them. To know that God, my Father, experienced even greater joy over me is too wonderful to grasp. I was so lost, then I found my way into the arms of God. No treasure on earth can compare to that.
"When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.' But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here - given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time."
~Luke 15:21-24, The Message