Friday, March 18, 2016

The Lost Son

Last time we talked about losing sheep, coins and toys. Today, we will talk about the mother of all losses…a lost child.

Let me start by saying that I’m not very fond of hearing people say things like: “well, you don’t understand what it is to be ___________, because you’ve never _____________” (fill in the blanks with unsurmountable feat of your choice). I mean, I might have never gone without my daily portion of chocolate, but I have a good imagination and I can easily empathize with someone in such tremendously dire circumstance! (Just kidding…sort of)

However, there are a couple of things I have to agree are difficult to fully comprehend when you have not “been there.” Parenting is one of those. It is easy to judge bad parents. I mean really, any idiot can see that you are not supposed to feed your child Happy Meals? Right? Nothing that is not organically grown by small family farmers who cultivate the ground the way people did in the seventeenth century should ever enter a child’s mouth. Well, of course! You don’t need to be a parent to know that. Therefore, anyone who sees a parent at a drive-through line has the right to shame him/her for being so irresponsible (because only people without children should be at the drive-through line getting their fix).

My point is, and I do have a point, that it is very difficult to understand the perils of parenthood when you don’t have children. It is very difficult to understand how incredibly hard it is to juggle work outside the home, with laundry, dusting, moping, cleaning toilets, grocery shopping, chauffeuring people around, figuring out what’s wrong with the dog’s ear, tending to hurting extremities (except your own), homework, learning disabilities, bad grades, teen angst, topped with marriage and the fact that dinner has to be served every single night…if you don’t have kids.

Therefore, it is easy not to understand that sometimes there are just some moments when you just need drive-through.

However, there is another thing that is difficult to understand when you don’t have kids: the immensity of the love that you feel for that child, regardless of how he/she drives you absolutely crazy and is personally responsible for each gray hair in your head.

That is why the very thought of losing one is completely unbearable. That is why Jesus used the lost son as the ultimate illustration of what goes on in the Kingdom of Heavens when one is lost.

Other than trying to lose them on purpose when I need a break, the closest I’ve ever come to losing one of my sons for real was a few years ago when we first visited Disney World. We were exhausted after days of walking and riding, so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice, sit down dinner one night. We were at Magic Kingdom and we were ready to go so we could see the parade with the floats and the lights. I had Dylan on my lap and I reached for my bag when, “where’s Grant?” “What?” “Grant! Where is he?” Still from our seats, we looked around the restaurant, nothing. We got up and continued to survey the place, nothing. We walked around the tables, nothing. I felt my heart pumping faster and my intake of air became troubled. “Where’s that kid?” We asked the young hostess, nothing. Finally, we stepped outside the restaurant, nothing. “My kid…my VERY clueless 8-year old…my son is lost in that sea of people at night in Magic Kingdom.” I tightened my grip on Dylan’s hand as a myriad of scary thoughts began piling up in my mind. I couldn’t breathe.

Helpless we walked back inside the restaurant ready to ask where we could file a missing-child report, when we see him. I couldn’t speak. We rushed to him. We hugged him. Dan yielded at him. Dylan cried. I slapped myself (not really, but I wanted to because I still couldn’t get a grip). “I was in the bathroom,” Grant finally said confused about the commotion. To this day, he insists on the fact that he apparently did tell us he was going to the bathroom and we even replied with an “OK.” To this day we have never admitted to him that he could be entirely right about that, but we were just so exhausted and distracted that we might have, perhaps, answered “OK” without having really heard a word he said. To this day it is still entirely his fault that we almost died of fear. To this day I still remember the panic of thinking him lost.

It’s a silly comparison, really…but even so, the illustration stands: losing a child is probably the worst thing a person could experience. That’s only but a fraction of the kind of agony God feels when one of His children wanders off the wrong path. So much so that He, Himself became One among us so He could rescue us…so He could pay for our ransom with His blood.

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