A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. Tenneva Jordan

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A Little Think

LOST and FOUND

Somewhere in my head was a script that read, "Every child should take music lessons, have a pet, and go camping to experience the great outdoors!" My husband nodded to the music and the pet, but not the camping. He'd been there, done that in the great outdoors while sleeping among free ranging Texas armadillos in the Army. That pretty much satisfied his camping quota!

You can imagine my delight, then, when good friends, experienced campers, invited me and the kids to join them on a mini-camping excursion in Northern Michigan. This would be so fun! We drove four hours, following our friends and their pop-up trailer like we knew what we were doing.

The campsite was just across the water from Mackinaw Island. My friends were all business when it came to setting up, assigning jobs, and de-stressing the hard work into pleasant enough tasks as a team. We felt useful, competent, and excited about the next day on the Island. Supper was cooked over an open fire. Then came campfire songs, s' mores, and learning the names of the constellations in the darkening umbrella overhead, while oohing and aahing over shooting stars. Some intro to camping!

The next morning it was "man your stations" to fix breakfast, clean up, and break down camp. No problem. I was washing dishes, when my Jennifer, 11, said she was taking Hannah, 5, across the grounds to the restrooms. Jennifer was one of those firstborn kids who came close to perfect-- which you have no way of realizing until you have three more--so I didn't give it a second thought. I could always count on Jennifer to size up situations and be responsible.

Things got busy with the "real" camping family doing most of the work, but cheerfully making us feel like we were pulling our weight. With everyone pitching in, it was quickly time to go catch the ferry to the Island. We were anxious to explore where no motorized vehicles are permitted.

I told Jennifer to gather the kids, and that's when we discovered Hannah was missing. My heart stopped; we were in a strange campground, the summer of several murders at Michigan rest stops. There were hundreds of families in various camping modes. This was before cell phones. "Dear GOD, help me!" was all I could think.

"Where is she?" Jennifer was mortified. She'd left Hannah at the restroom when Hannah insisted, "I know my way back!" By this time the adrenalin high was sending us in every direction calling for Hannah, now missing for thirty minutes. Fifteen minutes later, I spotted her long dark braids from the back, shoulders heaving, holding hands with two adults. They were headed for the tall campground watchtower. At the sound of her name, she came running back to me, tears pouring down her face. We collapsed into each other's arms. My heart did double-time the rest of that morning.

Her finders were clearly as relieved as she was to see us. When Hannah had realized she was lost, she started crying, and this couple offered to help. They went into the camp grocery store and told her to wait until they came out, which she said seemed like an eternity. They'd checked with the clerk to see how to handle this situation. Then they put their groceries into their car and walked her toward the tower. She wondered why they finished their shopping first.

Although Hannah has a 6-year-old of her own now, she remembers that camping trip like it was yesterday. So does Jennifer -- turns out she wasn't perfect! Turns out Hannah wouldn't stay overnight with anyone until 8th grade after that scare. And it turns out God has gently led them both through how it is turning out, which is approaching "fine."

"We're all in this alone," Lily Tomlin quipped. We're probably most aware of that in crisis. Even with strong support in place, facing disease, job loss, any major loss, even aging...we ultimately feel like we're in it alone. But that is what Easter is about: God proved we're not ever alone. He sent Jesus so that through His death and resurrection, when we believe Christ is our Savior, that resurrection power is ours, by His grace and the power of His Holy Spirit.

We admit we're lost, apart from God. Then He comes to us with His love, which is inexhaustible and doesn't wear out no matter how many dilemmas we bring to Him. We're like Hannah, who didn't know where she was but trusted her own ability to reach her destination. She never would have gotten there without help. She could have been sabotaged, because she was vulnerable, if left to her own devices.

Whether we're headed in the right direction or lost, we all need Christ to reach God's eternal heavenly destination for us. Even if we're living a perfectly good life and making all the right moves, we fall short through sin, an unpopular word these days!

But the Bible assures us in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That's the bad news. The Good News is that, although we are lost in the wrong of our sins, we're found and made right through the cross. That's God's grace -- "God's Riches At Christ's Expense!"

Do you remember being lost as a child? Are you lost right now? Someone is looking for you. He's your Creator, your Redeemer. When Dandi Mackall wrote Kids Say the Greatest Things About God, she asked, "What does God look like so I'll recognize Him when I get to heaven?" One child replied, "Don't worry about recognizing Him. He knows who you are!" And that's the Truth. Have a little think about it!


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