Tears flowed freely when, for a few terrifying hours yesterday, I had lost the necklace I wear daily that held my little Tage’s fingerprint. It’s one of the few tangible pieces of him that we have since he wasn’t old enough to draw us pictures or write us love notes. I couldn’t bear the thought of parting with it.
My friend, Tori, brought me with her to Vegas this week for a work conference, so she was in a session when I discovered it was missing. I didn’t want to tell her because I knew she would want to leave her lecture to come to me, so I texted Josh: I can’t find Tage’s necklace.
I could not remember the last time I had put it on or taken it off. I knew I had taken it off to go swim the day before, but had it put it back on? I couldn’t remember. Where had I set it exactly? I couldn’t recall. I got down on my hands and knees — four separate times — checking the exact places I’d just checked. I ripped apart the bed; I dug through the drawers; I scavenged all the pockets and bags and zippers. It was not in the room.
I cried for a moment, aching at the thought of never seeing his print around my neck again and then logically reminding myself that it is just a small piece of cheap metal.
But value is not granted through a price tag; it’s bestowed by the one who finds it worthy.
After my mom died, I remember wearing one of her signature necklaces every single day for over a year. It wasn’t worth much by the world’s standards, and I didn’t even like the style of it actually, but it meant more to me than any other item in the world because I could put it on every morning and feel that I was carrying Mom with me, that she wasn’t too far. After she’d been gone a little over a year and a half, the grief was not as intense, and I stopped wearing it every day, only saving it for special occasions. Likewise, I knew I would not wear Tage’s fingerprint every day for the rest of my life, but for now, it comforts. A lot. And after too many goodbyes lately, I didn’t want to have to say goodbye to it, too.
Unable to find it after my fourth thorough search of the room, I decided it was time to move on for a moment. I rode the elevator down to the first floor, and started making my way toward Coffee. But then I couldn’t focus on anything but the necklace, and I had to turn and face the wall while tears streamed down my face, dozens of unknowing people walking behind me. Meanwhile, Josh called me back, but I had to text him that I was in public, and if I answered, I would bawl. So, I asked him to just start praying. I needed a miracle.
I tried going forward again, skirting eye contact with a concerned gentleman who saw the tears welling up, and I turned into the wall once more to pretend to be looking at my phone while drops splashed down on the screen. This was not working. I longed for the safety of the hotel room and headed back up.
In the silence of the room, an unspoken shame whispered that I had misplaced him. What kind of mother loses the last piece of her son? When I retraced my steps and discovered that I had it on when I left the hotel room but did not take it off when I returned, I scolded myself for bringing it on the trip. I ached that it was probably being stepped on by grimy soles on a gum-stained sidewalk, that I would have to get back on a plane in two days and fly back to Indy while the most precious piece of Tage I have left remained discarded somewhere in Sin City, that I would never again get to clasp that sweet fingerprint around my neck and hold it close to my heart. Oh, to have his sweet, chubby arms around my neck and his little body close to my heart.
All I could do was pray.
When Tori returned from her session, she called the front desk and the security office at my request, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak the words without tears. I heard Tori describe it to the female voice on the other end. “Thin silver chain…silver disc the size of a quarter…a baby’s finger print…yes…yes…yes.” Upon hanging up, Tori told me the yesses were her answers to the woman who got choked up on the other end of the line, “Oh my, a baby?…I think I know what that means…I will look as hard as I can for it.”
Tori sat in my sadness and silence with me while I cried about a lost necklace, which was not simply a lost necklace at all. She helped me search one more time, which only confirmed it was really gone. She called a couple other places we had been in case someone had found it who all promised to call back if they found anything.
While she was on the phone, the dear woman from our hotel called back. When I answered, she explained that she had just gotten to her shift, so she was unaware of what had been turned in that day until now. Despite her positive tone, I restrained my hope until I heard the three greatest words of 2015: It’s been found!
I immediately choked up and handed the phone to Tori who explained that I was suddenly crying tears of joy and that we’d be down to get it right away. A few (long) minutes later, my necklace was handed over to me in the lobby. She told me it was found on the lobby floor and turned in by a stranger. I can assure you that the uncontainable joy in my heart and the cheesy smile on my face in that moment would rival that of a winning Vegas gambler any day!
Jesus knows a thing or two about the joy of finding lost things. As I was on my hands and knees in the bathroom, searching recklessly, I thought of the woman in Luke 15 who lost one coin, and she looked in every corner of the house and swept every nook and cranny until she found it (verse 8). Then, when she found it, she called all her friends to celebrate with her for finding this one lost coin which she treasured.
Jesus gets it. He knows how hard we look for the things we love that are lost; He knows of the heartache we feel when we can’t find the things we value. He wants us to know He really gets it because He told three parables right in a row about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son (see Luke 15:1-32). But as I’ve refreshed my mind and heart with these parables, I remember once again why He told them.
Jesus was talking about lost people. He was comparing the joy I felt in finding my necklace to the joy all of Heaven feels when one lost person returns to God. I would imagine it, too, rivals the joy and smiles of the winners here in Vegas!
“Or suppose a woman has ten valuable silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and look in every corner of the house and sweep every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found her lost coin. In the same way, there is joy in Heaven when ever one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)
What a picture I now have of Jesus’s active love for recovering those who are currently lost or who have always been lost.
Of the worth He places on the unworthy, making us priceless.
Of the sadness He feels regarding those He loves that are lost.
Of Jesus’s never-ending, never-giving-up search of every grimy, gum-stained nook and cranny of the world, looking for whoever wants to be rescued by Him.
Of His uncontainable joy and celebration when He uncovers just one who will repent.
Of Jesus’s big, cheesy smile when He receives one of us who are lost and once again holds us close to His heart.