We all got lost, waiting to be found.
A few weeks ago I planned to have a party at my house. I was going to read a few things, my friend Scott was going to play some music and my friend Ben was going to do some delightful things with food.
Then it snowed in Georgia and got canceled.
I wrote a post on my blog announcing the party was off. I thought I would be clever so I mentioned that Barry Manilow had canceled too. If I am being honest, I thought at least a few people would post messages saying how disappointed they were the party was canceled.
I know that’s probably shallow but I can’t just write about the good bits on my blog and make myself seem more put together than I am. So the truth is that I thought my post about the party being canceled would generate a bunch of emails/comments in the first 24 hours. And I would feel important or missed or something.
I got 1 email in the first 24 hours.
Here is what it said:
Actually Barry didn't cancel the show last night; the management at Phillips arena did, and it hasn't been canceled just postponed. Barry's management is already working on another date for the show to go on.
Instead of readers telling me how good I am, one “Fanilow” (what Barry Manilow fans call themselves) told me how bad I am.
I was frustrated at first, but the reality is that the Fanilow helped me see a universal truth that I had forgotten about since I was in college:
We all want to be found.
I don’t care if you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Atheist or Agnostic. I think deep down inside, we all want to be found. We all want someone to come looking for us. We want people to be glad when they are with us, as if they have arrived. As Radiohead once said, “I want you to notice when I’m not around.”
That’s how I was in college. I was dating a girl that didn’t seem that concerned if I was around. So when we went to parties, I would get a little drunk and then hide. By “hide” I really wish I meant “go outside and sit on a curb forlornly like a singer/songwriter waiting for inspiration.” Alas, that is not what I meant. I used to go hide in closets. (If you listen closely you can actually hear readers leaving the site as I write.) I would stand there in the dark of the closet, awkwardly shoved amidst coasts and shoes waiting for her to look for me. Wanting, more than anything those stupid nights, for her to notice I was missing. For her to come find me. I wanted to be found.
I wonder if that is how the Prodigal Son felt when he ran away from the father. I wonder if when he was in the pigpen, when he had come to the end of himself if that is what he wanted more than anything. To be found by the father. To be missed. To be looked for.
That story is woefully incomplete in some ways. We don’t get a picture of what happened the day after the welcome home party, which is the subject of the book I am writing. We don’t know anything about a mother or additional family members or specifics like how long the son was gone.
But what Luke 15 does reveal is pretty powerful. We are given two images, two distinct pictures of two people at odds with the idea of being lost and found.
In one image, we see the father. Here is what we are told: “But while he (the son) was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.”
The father was watching the road. He wasn’t going about his day casually glancing at the road thinking he might see the son but he had some business to attend to. You get the sense that life had ceased on the farm as far as the father was concerned. And he wasn’t alone. He was with servants that eventually ran with him. I like to imagine that the moment the father was told the son was missing he called together his most trusted servants and together they started watching the road. All day, all night, all week, all month, all year.
And then we have the son, stuck in a pigpen, desperately planning his return. And when he was ready, all it says of his journey was “So he got up and went to his father.”
The journey is not what matters in this story. We are not told how long he walks or how far he went or any other detail of the trip. And it’s not that the Bible is not detailed. Read the description of the temple in the Old Testament. It’s exquisite and microscopically detailed.
But here we only get nine words and I think there are only three that really matter. I think we’re supposed to look at “got up” and “went.” That was all he had to do. He stood to his feet and he went. It wasn’t complicated. It wasn’t long. It wasn’t full of do’s and don’ts.
I don’t know where you are right now. Maybe you’re found, maybe you’re lost, but regardless, please know that there is a father watching your road. It is all he does. His beard is growing long, his stomach is going empty as he waits by the road for you. He won’t leave. He can’t leave as long as you’re still out there. You need only get up and go and wait for the sound of desperate feet in the distance.
p.s. If you've already read the 130+ posts on this site, check out my other site, 97secondswithGod.com