So...you know that feeling that you get...way, way down deep in the pit of your stomach...that emotional wave which is a mixture of sheer panic, fear, and adrenaline...it's the feeling that you get at the moment that you first realize that you've lost something very precious to you...I hate that feeling!
I've been looking forward to something for several months. My BRILLIANT and BEAUTIFUL mother-in-law, Jaye Norquist, bought me an early Christmas present: tickets to last Sunday's Eagles vs. Colts football game here in Philadelphia. Back in September I received two tickets in the mail via Stub Hub...tickets which would give me my first and no doubt last chance to see my gridiron hero, Peyton Manning, live and in person. After cuddling with the tickets for several days, they were delicately stowed away in a safe place to await their appointed day.
Sunday morning came and the Williams house was a fury of activity. My former church, Grace Bible Fellowship Church of Wallingford, PA, had invited me to come and share an update about the ministry of New Beginnings. So, you can imagine the scene of getting ready for church, packing all the necessary items for a presentation, diapers, baby food, and a warm change of clothes for the football game, and the tickets.
We arrived at Grace in plenty of time to usher our kids to their classrooms and nursery and for me to get a DVD presentation up to the sound booth. Making my way through the halls of Grace church has always been challenging due to the warmth and friendliness of folks there, but it is especially hard when people want to hear about how we've been doing over the past two years of being away in church planting. Moments before the service began I made my way back to my seat. For security purposes and peace of mind, I had placed the tickets in the middle of my Bible...actually, in Ecclesiastes 3 where it talks about a "time and place for everything under the sun"...appropriate, so I thought. When I sat down I grabbed my Bible and opened it to glance at the tickets before we started to worship...and...(get ready for that feeling...)...the tickets were gone!
Believe it or not, I kept my composure quite well throughout the service. My update went seemingly well and I didn't burst out into tears or anything like that. I had whispered to Laurie halfway through the service (figuring that she couldn't really yell at me or punch me during church for losing such expensive tickets) that they were not in the Bible. I could see the panic on her face too.
After the service ended, the search began. I retraced literally every step that I had taken since getting the kids out of the van in the parking lot of Grace. I turned the van upside-down. I looked under nearly every car in the parking lot...and absolutely nothing! Fortunately, a few friends from New Beginnings were with us at the service and were heading back to New Jersey. So, I gave them a key to our house and pleaded with them to look around the driveway and, if necessary, to go into the house and look where the tickets had been just before we packed up for Grace.
About thirty minutes later I got the call from my friend, Tim. "Danny," he said. "They are here. They must have fallen off your Bible and were resting on the couch." The tickets never even made it out of the house!
To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...(I forget who said that)...So, if you know the feeling of despair and paralysis which comes from losing something so precious, then maybe you also know the feeling of having found that which was so precious? The flood of panic gives way to a fountain of praise.
So, after all this...a couple of observations and thoughts...
#1 - I can be such a boneheaded person. (Maybe you already knew that...)
#2 - I learned a lot about my heart and trust in God through this experience. (A special word of thanks to my friend, Warren Spence, who prompted us to prayer before the search began.)
#3 - This whole story reminds me of The Gospel of Luke, chapter fifteen...check that out sometime today to see just how passionate God is to find lost things and to see the joy of heaven when we are found.
#4 - Sitting in the 200 level at an Eagles game is really quite an experience in and of itself!
Have you ever lost something that was very valuable? How did it make you feel to lose it...and to find it?
A few snapshots of the fun: