Ah, the "lost & found" comes to the rescue! For the child, they think it's a great solution.
Personally, I'd rather figure out how the mittens can always be found!
Thankfully, God has been working on this whole "lost & found" thing way longer than I have…here's a glimpse:
Backdrop: The Israelites are God's chosen people. He has chosen to reveal His love and His character to the world by how he interacts with them. Through the Israelites we learn who we are and who God is and most importantly, we see His love for us.
There is a point (actually many points) in Israel's history where they have gotten completely lost. Not always in a geographical sense, but in a social, emotional and spiritual sense; they've lost touch with who they are and whose they are. Maybe you can relate…I know I can! I can point to a good 2-3 year period in college where I forgot who I was and whose I was. If I recall correctly, it was a pretty empty time in my life.
So, Israel got lost. They might have been Israelites by heritage, but they were pagans in practice. They lost sight of the One True God and they began worshiping a god named Baal…just like everyone around them.
At this time, Elijah, the only prophet of the Lord left, comes to the king and tells him to gather up all the prophets of Baal (450) and all the people and meet together on Mt. Carmel. There, on Mt. Carmel, God and Baal would have an Old Testament show-down (sort of).
God has a plan to help the Israelites get found!
The plan: The prophets of Baal will prepare their offering and Elijah will prepare his offering, but neither will set fire to their offering. The God that burns up the offering will be revealed to the people as the One True God. Sounds simple enough.
The prophets of Baal go first. They prepare their offering and then the moment of truth comes: They pray to Baal. They call out to Baal.
They cut themselves until their blood is flowing…for Baal.
They hear nothing. There is no fire set to the offering.
In the presence of all the people, Baal is either asleep, not listening, or NOT REAL!
Now it's Elijah's turn. He rebuilds the altar of the Lord that had been torn down.
He uses 12 stones to build this altar, reminding the Israelites who they are;
they are a part of the 12 Tribes of Israel.
He digs a deep trench around the altar and he prepares the offering to the Lord.
Then, 3 times he has people bring 4 huge jars of water to dump over the offering. This trench is overflowing with water, making this offering virtually impossible to set ablaze.
Impossible for man…that is.
Next, Elijah prays to the Lord. One of the most striking things Elijah says in his prayer is this: "Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."
This wasn't about Elijah. Elijah was not going to get the credit for this one…he made sure of that by dumping gallons and gallons of water over the offering.
The Lord sent a fire so great that it burned up the offering, the stones, the wood, the soil and it licked up the water in the trench! Can you imagine witnessing that?
The people fell face-down on the ground and cried out "The Lord - he is God! The Lord - he is God!"
This is God's "lost & found."
God turned their hearts back to himself.
They remembered who they were (Israelites) and they remembered whose they were (God's).
I wonder if the memories of the stories they'd been told by their parents and their grandparents came rushing back to their hearts?
- Stories of how the Lord himself parted the Red Sea, saving them from the pursuing Egyptian soldiers.
- Stories of how the Lord provided food for them daily, manna and quail, for 40 years as they wandered in the desert.
What about you? Have you forgotten who you are and whose you are?
You are not alone.
There is no age limit on this problem.
When I say "lost," I'm talking about losing focus; losing our way.
It's what happens when we get caught up in everyday life and before we know it, we've lost track of who we are and whose we are!
This happens a lot during life's transitions:
- Going to college
- Changing colleges
- Graduation & entering the dreaded real world
- Having kids
- Loss of a loved one
Life has a way of drowning out the voice of God during these transitions.
God used Elijah to turn the hearts of these lost Israelites back to Himself.
He uses people every day to do the same thing.
- Maybe He put a person in your life to remind you who you are and whose you are…He's done that for me.
- Maybe He ended a relationship with a person; someone who was making you forget who you are and whose you are…He's done that for me.
- Maybe you read something in His Word that reminded you who you are and whose you are:
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me where written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God.
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand -
when I awake, I am still with you."
"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of a natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:12-13
The trick to keeping track of your mittens is remembering where you put them. It's easiest to remember where you put them, when you put them in the same place every time. That's how the mittens stay found!
It's similar with our faith. When we fix your eyes on Jesus daily, it will be harder for us to get lost. When we take time to listen to His voice, the voices around us won't be quite so loud or nearly as compelling.
Know this, when we do get "lost"… and we all get "lost." Jesus is the only One who can turn your heart back to Himself and rest assured, He will.
May you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, so you can stop dipping into the good ol' "lost & found" and just be found!