As I think about the measures I would take to provide and protect my daughters, the parables of Jesus take on a whole new meaning.
What does the Heavenly Kingdom look like? It’s like a woman who has lost a valuable coin. She searches the whole house and will not give up until she has found it. It’s like a shepherd who knows each of his sheep, and at the end of the day – one of them has run away… The shepherd leaves the 99 to hunt down the lost one. Yes, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Father who waits at the edge of the driveway for His prodigal to return…
A few days ago we took the girls on a hike up the trails leading to Triple Falls. Jamie carried her camera in one hand, and tucked Ashlyn in a pack to carry along. Ambria, as usual, stayed close to me as we walked the rocky terrain. Mariah Grace was running all over the place, looking for hiking sticks, noticing caterpillars, and searching for short cuts.
On our way back from the falls we all got a bit separated. After stopping for a drink, we realized that Mariah was neither with me, nor her mother. She was missing!
Jamie ventured back to see if Mariah had delayed in the trek home. I ran ahead, to hunt her down. I could feel the pace of my heart accelerating in its beat. My steps were hurried, and my mission was urgent. She was not around the bends ahead. Jamie returned and said that she was not back at the falls, either.
As I ran in pursuit of missing daughter, I asked fellow hikers on the trail if they had seen a little girl with a pony tail and big stick. “Yes”, they said, “Hurry… she is walking alone back toward the road ahead!”
As I passed others along the way, they confirmed this report. I ran as fast as I could, trying to catch Mariah before she ventured out into the highway from whence we came.
And as I ran, I could sense the Presence of the One who reminded me: “Now you understand the heart of a Father. Now you realize the urgency of the search. What wouldn’t you do to find your missing prodigal?”
I neared the entry point of the trail, near the highway overpass. And there she was. Mariah was standing alone at the edge of the road, waiting for me. She had wandered off from the protection of our group, and thought that she had been left behind. In her mind, she had to catch up to us. And when she arrived at the road she knew it would only be a matter of time before her Father would come to her rescue.
And in my embrace, she could feel my heart pounding in determination. I held her close to me as I carried her back safely. And I remembered those times when it was I who had been lost, and in the midnight hour – He arrived.