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A Little Think

Lost or Not Found...Yet!

When you go to the beach, what do you do once you've spread out your towel and sun blocked the kids? On Lake Michigan beaches, the big deal is to find beach glass and Petoskey stones. In fact, our cottage has a glass fish bowlful to prove it. Not any beach glass, mind you - no rough edges or chips. It has to be wave tossed and rock rubbed before it's worthy! Years ago, colors mattered. White, green and brown glass was considered ordinary. Blue and pink were real finds!

Nowadays all beach glass is a find; glass is scarce. With beverages sold in cans, not bottles, the source of the glass is gone. Once in a while the lake uncovers an old dump where glass bottles were discarded and then the lake gets to work, for who knows how long, to polish up the pieces once the glass shatters. Some people seem to find polished glass and Petoskeys like others find four leaf clovers - my dad still did that in his 80's. Every beach trek he'd "spot" for his kids, grandkids or great grandkids. He never got tired of it, either.

I thought of him on the beach this summer with my granddaughter Emma, who remembers beach walks with him. We commented how the beach changes daily depending on the water's mood. Just as I reminisced about how her "Poppa" could quickly spot a Petoskey, I looked down at a perfect one. It was like my dad was right there for a second! Emma, not nearly as impressed as I was with the moment, skipped on, looking for her own stones.

Six-year-old James, ahead of us intent on finding glass, had had it with looking. "It's not fair; I'm not finding any good stones!" I cranked up the patience is a virtue bit, when there at my feet was the most perfect beach glass triangle I have ever seen - smoky, smooth and perfectly shaped. I felt like I'd won the lottery. You have to understand, I've been doing this since I was a kid and lots of times whined myself, "I can't find anything on the beach!"

Placing my foot gently over the triangle, I called out, "James, look - lots of stones, maybe there's some glass in here." I stepped away and his excitement indicated a big find. He was beside himself, running up and down the beach showing the other kids his perfect triangle. When I realized he might lose it walking in the lake, I held out the plastic bucket I carried for their treasures. No deal; he was clutching that find for the duration.

But it wasn't meant to be. Within minutes came the plaintive wail of lost treasure. I was next to him in a split second, my eye on the spot where the wave pushed him off balance. I would have paid real money to find that perfectly polished glass triangle. All of us looked, but James returned to the cottage with a sad tale that afternoon. The next day, lake smooth as glass, Emma and I paddled the kayak back to the spot, peering through clear waters for a triangle. Gone. Sigh.

Emma's mom, my daughter, jolted me back to reality with her lost beach glass perspective. "Mom, if we got back all the great glass and stones we've lost through the years... It happens!" I'm normally not obsessive compulsive, but that perfect triangle stayed in my head for yet another day. Then came a little life lesson on "Lost." Yes, James lost the beach glass. It was an accident, but it was gone. It was perfect and it was free, not in a shop somewhere, free for the finding on our beach walk.

But there was a catch in the story. James doesn't know that I was actually the one who found it and put my foot on it, so he could "find" it. Now think about God for a second. It's like when God, our Creator, who knows where the treasures we need are, leads us to them - "Ah-ha moments" we sometimes call them. Like our child's teacher...the right surgeon...good counsel...a "chance" meeting that turns into a friendship or a job. He walks us to that moment, makes sure we pick up on it and enjoys our rejoicing over it and sharing it. He offers to put it in His treasure "bucket" for safe-keeping. If we refuse, it can be our loss and His and that of another.

Will someone else find the perfect beach glass triangle that James lost? Will they claim it's theirs? Will it be theirs? Yes. Will they keep it any longer than James did? Maybe that triangle will never be found. Maybe your glass triangle is a person or situation woven into your life to love or like or mentor. You lost the person or the money or the opportunity. Perhaps you didn't mean to, but you didn't put it somewhere for safe-keeping and it's over.

In life, God, who describes Himself as a loving Heavenly Father, knows not only where the lost beach glass is - He knows what you need and where it is. Whether it's a job or broken relationship or maybe even something you held onto knowing it was close to perfect, He wants you to come to Him with the loss. He wants to complete you as He meets your need in a relationship with Him. It's free, just like the beach glass, and He never gets tired of looking!

In Luke 19:10, Jesus hangs out with a tax collector named Zacchaeus who'd been cheating people on their taxes. After meeting Jesus, he realizes that what he's been doing wasn't what he needed at all. He's so pumped about experiencing the love and forgiveness of God through Christ in that moment that he volunteers to give half of his possessions to the poor and to pay back four times the amount to anyone he's cheated. That's when Jesus explains His own mission, that He "came to seek and to save what was lost."

We're all lost without a relationship with Jesus. We can make things ok on our own, even excel now and then. But we're lost when it comes to eternity, that really long time after we die. Life treats us like the glass in the lake. We're bumped up against one another, tossed around by the waves. We think it's better to be pink or blue than ordinary white, brown or green, but unlike the glass, we are not automatically worthy once we're polished by the ups and downs of life.

Only Christ can make us worthy by faith in what He did on the cross for our sins. It's that clean slate of "You are forgiven!" that polishes us up to be acceptable in God's sight. But the neat thing is, He collects us way before we're polished. Any shape and color will do since He created us!

You know, come to think of it, that perfect beach glass triangle may be lost or it could just be lost and not found yet. When we receive Christ, as Zacchaeus did, we'll be found and perfected in Christ. Let's talk about that part of being found another time. For now, have a little think about it!

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