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