For 10 minutes yesterday afternoon we couldn’t find our (nearly) six-year-old son, Jackson.
It’s the most terrified I have ever been. It was the sacred Sunday nap hour. His younger brother and dad were sleeping. He and I had cleaned the playroom, got out the new chalk and I’d complimented the complicated plans for a “gun factory” that he’d designed.
Zoe finally fell asleep too. And I told Jackson, as I always do, that since he doesn’t nap any more it was quiet play time for him in the playroom. Dad and I would be in the bedroom resting if he needed us. I’d been down no more than half an hour before Zoe woke and Pete got up to rock her. And mere minutes later he came in to ask me where Jackson was. Because he didn’t seem to be anywhere.
This is the part of the story where time seemed to both stand still and telescope into a lifetime lived without our firstborn. I thought I would choke on the panic. Pete combing the streets, the school, the park looking for him. Me pounding on the neighbor man’s door, asking for Jack, yelling his name even though they told me he wasn’t there.
All rational thought went out the window. So did all shame. There’s nothing I wouldn’t have done to find him. Nothing that would have embarrassed me to ask, to beg of God, the police, or our neighbors to get him back.
I was screaming his name so loudly that it took Micah interrupting with an, “I hear something” to get my attention. We both listened. And there it was again. Coming from inside the coat closet. We’d looked there earlier. But somehow we’d missed him. Buried in the dark and the corner and, as it turns out, asleep.
The relief at seeing him emerge, tousled hair and crooked glasses, had me on my knees scaring him with my tears and crushing hugs.
You can live a lifetime in ten minutes.
You can die and be born again in a second.
This is the holy terror of parenthood.
And tonight I can still remember all too vividly how it felt. And suddenly I find that a dusty parable has just climbed off the pages of Scripture and into my living room.
Is this, I wonder, is this what Jesus feels?
Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. ~ From Luke 15
my heart is beating far too fast… even knowing that he would be ok… my ache of empathy for your sheer terror was impossible to put away because of the compelling way you have with words.
and i never have before put that panic with the lost sheep story. i always thought it was nice of the shepherd to care about each so as to never want to be without one… but the panic, the urgency brings a whole new perspective.
long time dear friend! What a beautiful perspective God has blessed you with!
I raced through your story to find the good ending, but my heart is still pounding. I cannot imagine what that must have been like for you, Lisa-Jo. How dear of you to recognize Jesus’ story in it and the profound thunderbolt of truth: God’s love for us is as intense and committed as your love for Jack. Bless you!
I am so thankful he is okay. We once had a close call with one of our children. I am still convinced those who returned her to us were angels. All I could do was hold her and weep, praising Him for His Hand of protection. May we never grieve His Father Heart like that!
Yrs, that’s exactly it! I never imagined the Shepherd being panicked. But now I do. Now I think if he is, indeed, the Good Shepherd his panic would be gut wrenching.
Oh goodness! YUCK! I have been there in your panic. My two year old was “lost” in the M&M store in Las Vegas. I thought the grandparents had him…I wanted time to stop and the whole store to be still. Thankfully he was found in minutes that felt like hours to my heart. Thanks for bringing it home. With Joy, Carey
oh dear! i totally did that to my parents once or twice. i like to fall asleep random places. once in a closet. once behind the couch. thanks for reminding me to think of what they probably felt during those moments…and such a great connection to the lost sheep…so thankful for a god that comes searching for me!
Oh I hate that feeling! It really is a gut wrenching horrified panic feeling. It struck me once that we haven’t felt any thing for our kids that God hasn’t felt for us. I’m sure being God it’s somewhat intensified too :)….I can’t imagine that feeling magnified. It brings a whole new life to that parable…..
wow. No parent or grandparent would want that feeling ever ~ to see and experience and know or wonder ‘did something bad’ happen to our child. It is the worry of ‘our times’. SO glad for you that is was a positive ending.
Such events stay with you forever. So glad for the happy ending. I remember losing sight of my daughter for a split-second at a carnival one time. I was screaming her name to the top of my lungs, and didn’t care who was looking. Turns out, she was hidden by my husband’s legs, but this mama bear went into full-blown panic mode. You never forget those moments.
I love your analogy. So moving, thinking of our Heaveny Father seeking for us. I’m convinced He doesn’t rest until we’re all tucked in, safe and sound.
Once when we were shopping I made the mistake of assuming my daughter was with my husband only to find he had assumed the same. I screamed and cried around the shopping centre. I was living the nightmares. We searched for her everywhere only to find her back in the shop We had just left. Never had I felt such relief xx
So grateful for the happy ending.
Heart pounding from Hong Kong!
my heart got all racey just reading this. I can’t imagine what you must’ve been feeling. so glad jack was safe (sleeping even!) and thankful for the vivid picture of God’s heart for me.
What an excellent analogy – thinking of God searching for us, intently and with passion. I too have lost a child, in a castle – no less, with a Brownie troop and I was a leader. My wandering child didn’t want to keep track of her mother; she was in her own little world. Sometimes we get like that too – our own little world. I think that is the nudge for a post for tomorrow.
Every parents’ worst nightmare…..So glad you found him safe and sound!
Wow… That definitely brings an entirely new meaning to that parable for me. Or at least a new perspective on it. And definitely assures me that I’m not ready for parenthood yet. =)
Whew! And then the relief swallows the terror and you have the irrational urge to shake your child out of the hug and scream, “How could you do that to me?”
Someone else who knows your love. . . and your panic. . . is Mary. Can you imagine what she felt. . . for three days. . . twice? Thanks for sharing!
How terrifying! I often contemplate on the sheer terror that Joseph and Mary felt in Jerusalem when they searched for THREE days for Jesus. I think in every motherly agony Mary has been there too.
What a terrifying ten minutes! I’m so glad you found him and that everything was okay.
I’ve never imagined the shepherd being panicked either…what a new perspective.
Oh my GOSH! Thank the Lord you found him. That would scare me to death. I only have one to look out for, and he’s REALLY loud. So if it’s quiet for more than 10 seconds, I know I’m in trouble~!
I am forwarding this to Steve. We had a similiar experience occur 2 weeks ago with Ethan at the baseball field. Terrifying as I descibed to people what he looks like and what he was wearing. Seemed so unreal yet all too real. Obviously he was found and I am so glad that you found Jackson. I loved how you tied the parable to that – it sure brings home the fervor with which Jesus must search for those that are lost. Sending some hugs your way:)
beautiful, POWERFUL perspective.
so glad to hear your son was found! :)
wow, that brought back some horror memories. I know just how you feel. Our three year old daughter was lost for a while and I was in total panic. We also had a son who was 12 that got lost down in a canyon and that was a terrible experience.
Being lost spiritually is also a frightening experience; it is important to find the one.
Blessings to you!
I have tears and chills. Wow. What a frightening 10 minutes. Praising God that your sweet boy was safe in your house! I can recall just a few times when my Josiah was out of my site for just seconds….the fear that gripped me and the feelings that washed over me were like no other.
Your last line is incredibly powerful. If we as parents feel this way, it can only mean that the urgency He feels is intensified greatly. So many of His own are lost….
You captivated me with your tale – as a parent i could feel the anguish; similar experience when lost my daughter in a big electrical shop, it took over an hour to find her asleep in a washing machine blankie in hand. The terror my wife and i felt was impossible to describe, but you have managed to here
Your words took me right back to the time when my daughter was 2, and we were at a large children’s science museum. She was in the stroller, but while I helped my boys with something in the gift shop, she climbed out. I don’t know how long it was before I noticed. I started SCREAMING her name and within seconds had several other concerned parents looking for her, too. Five minutes later, we saw her at the opposite end of the museum lobby. Have mercy, it was so scary.
Your words describe such moments perfectly…you can live a lifetime in just a few minutes. I’m all sweaty again just remembering. And it brings the ache Jesus has for the lost to my heart afresh!
Oh, I’m so glad that everything is ok! Those moments are terrifying!! I don’t know that I would have connected it to that parable, but it is so true. It’s hard to imagine Jesus feeling that sense of panic about me, but His urgent desire for none to perish is evident throughout scripture. You’ve given me something to chew on…
Our middle daughter did this once. We came home from date night and she wasn’t in her bed. When we asked my sister-in-law where she ways, she said, “In her bed.” Of coure, we rushed around the house frantic. We finally found her sleeping in the floor of our closet. The relief is indescribable!
I’m at work with silent tears running down my face….
This… I echo all that Gitz wrote, Lisa Jo. The panic you felt and put so vividly alive in words and then HIs story of seeking me. The franticness of the Father to be with me…
I’m thinking on these today.
Thank you. For making Him alive.
Could this be the parental jerk from one extreme to the other that took place on the cross, between Father and Son? Not that the Son was lost, but that the Father had to actually turn away from him. The dying and the living again in 3 short days that will forever be the crux of all time, when both time stood still and a lifetime was lived.