I don’t advise taking the trash out at midnight in sleet conditions. One December night I gave it a whirl and it went about as well as you’d expect. As I rolled the giant wheeled bin down our steep driveway in the dark, my foot slipped and suddenly the trash can and I were on a toboggan run toward the road.
Not my finest moment.
Once we came to a stop, I pulled my left arm out from under the bin to check on my scraped and bleeding hand. With horror I saw the prongs of my engagement ring splayed like starfish arms.
The diamond was gone.
It was pitch black, precipitation falling, and this little diamond was lost somewhere among the approximately thirty-seven million tiny stones on my driveway. I felt sick.
Within minutes, my husband and I were armed with a shop-vac and a broom, scouring the driveway by the light of a camping lantern. If I didn’t find the diamond that very night, I knew it would likely swish down the storm drain at the bottom of the hill. So we swept. We prayed. I thought about the woman in Jesus’ parable who loses a coin and relentlessly sweeps her house by lamplight until the tiny object is found. Why so obsessive, lady? Well, I finally understood.
Thankfully, after sweeping inch by inch for nearly an hour, I spied a familiar sparkle amidst the pebbles in my dustpan. Just like the coin woman, I shouted, cheered, danced in the driveway, and probably woke the neighbors. But who cared? I found a diamond in a driveway! What a story! What a find!
I suddenly understood that strange parable woman, shouting the neighbors awake so they could rejoice with her. That kind of charismatic exuberance seemed a little weird before, honestly. But here’s the thing: when something precious is lost and found, you don’t mind what anyone thinks. You ugly cry, you scream, or maybe you do an end zone dance on the sidewalk. It’s back! The thing I love is back!
The prodigal son’s dad, the shepherd who found his sheep, the woman who found her coin: they all throw parties, hug the neighbors, bust a move. The parables seem to say that what we have on our hands is a God who celebrates, big time, over what he treasures.
We’ve lost a lot that’s precious this past year. Parents are drained. Church is strange. Calendars are full of cancelled opportunities. But things we lost can sometimes be found. In-person services. A visit with vaccinated grandparents. A hug from a friend. A full week in a classroom. An indoor birthday party. An airplane flight. A family reunion. A date for your second shot. Maybe even singing hymns together?
I’m not a Bible scholar, but it seems to me from Jesus and the coin lady that we’re right to celebrate with gratitude when those lost things return. It’s even ok to be giddy, obnoxiously loud, and embarrassingly end-zone-dance-level-excited. The joy of finding what is lost is for sharing. For telling. For posting. For yelling to your neighbor. “It’s back! Rejoice with me!”
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”