And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ Luke 15:9
Mike was coming in the house from walking the dog when his cell rang. It was our daughter Amber on the other end. She was crying so hard Mike couldn’t understand her. When she choked out, “Dad?” Mike stiffened. Our son-in-law was downrange on a mission for the Air Force. Instantly Mike feared the worst.
“Ben..?” My hand went to my throat. Mike listened for a moment and handed the phone to me, shaking his head. “Ben’s fine,” he said quietly, “but you need to comfort your daughter. Her wedding rings are gone.”
Haltingly, the story came out. A swim workout at the YMCA. Rings removed and placed in a locked locker for safekeeping. A swift shower and a devastating discovery.
One heartbroken daughter.
“I’m so sorry,” I said to her again and again, sick inside at her loss. “So very sorry. Have you thought of…?”
We prayed. Amber, still shaking, formulated a plan.
A police report filed. Posters with reward information and photos of her left hand wearing the distinctive rings Ben gave to her on their engagement and wedding days nearly five years ago, her right with the little emerald from her dad and me that marked her 21st birthday. A sympathetic clerk at the Y. A determined young bride.
But it would take a miracle to find three little rings in a haystack the size of Tacoma, Washington.
We believe that God can do anything. In a lifetime of ministry we have seen miracle upon miracle – divine assents to the most impossible of prayers.
But we have also been met by silence. By mystery. And by shattering, inexplicable declination.
Yahweh does not throw a mattress beneath us every time we fall. He does not heal everyone we pray for. He does not always choose to restore that which we have lost.
Sometimes that which is lost refuses to be found.
During the month of February, the adult Bible fellowship I attend at church will be discussing a book about a generation of young adults who have left the faith in which they were raised. They are in a far country spiritually. Their parents long to have them come home.
And in the name of all that’s precious we cry out, “LORD, you can bring them back. You have the power to force their return.”
But He has also given human beings our dazzling, terrible freedom – freedom to wander, to run, even to steal.
“I’m going to visit every gold buyer within twenty miles and I’m hoping the Y will let me put up a reward poster,” Amber wrote in an email to our extended family on Friday. “But in the end, God can change a heart and I’m praying that He does and that the woman who did this will return them.
“Things I’m thankful for: All of you! Knowing you’ll join me in prayer is amazing. Ben and my parents. The three rings were from them, which gives them significance beyond the mere materials. And I still have Ben and my parents, so I am so very blessed. A God who’s in control. I don’t have to be wracked with guilt for my lapse in judgment or worry that I’m not doing enough to find them because God loves me and will take care of me, whether that means getting them back or not, and I can trust Him.”
Friday evening, Mike and I were at an international dinner at church when our cell phones buzzed simultaneously. The manager at a shop that buys gold had recognized the rings from one of Amber’s posters and a clerk called to tell her they had purchased them the night before. An ecstatic text came from Amber: “They’ve been found!”
All three rings are now back on her fingers.
“I had 24 hours to reflect on how blessed I was by a wonderful husband, loving family, supportive friends,” Amber wrote the next day. “And now I have my rings back, too. Don’t you love a happy ending?!”
Sometimes stories that are too good to be true really do happen.
Sometimes those who wander find their way home again.
Sometimes that which is lost is found.
Don’t you just love a happy ending?