Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We all got lost, waiting to be found.

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


Jen said...

Jon - recently found your site and subscribed and I wanted to give a shout out. So "hello" and all that. And - why do you have two blogs that link to each other? Why not just have one? Maybe I've missed the reason - I haven't read ALL of your archives ;) - so... why?

Prodigal Jon said...

Jen -
I tried to post a response on your blog but it said it was by invite only. The two blogs serve two different purposes:

ProdigalJohn = longer posts (today's was 963 words), more general topics, more life issues, wider focus.

97SecondswithGod = short posts (today's was 284 words) devotional style, Bible and God focused.

I have a lot of readers that are not Christian and I felt that if I combined the two sites, they would have to wade through all the Bible stuff to get to the stuff about how not to lie to your wife, or how addiction works or why if we were honest we'd make similar mistakes to britney if we were suddenly rich and drunk of affirmation. They can link to 97seconds and get the Bible stuff, but I wanted that to be their choice, not something I made them read through to find what they liked.

Let me know if that makes sense.

Thanks for reading. Invite me to your blog sometime. I'd like to check it out.

William said...

I've waited a few days to ask you this, but how are you doing in the aftermath of 18-1?

Prodigal Jon said...

As far as 18-1 goes (a reference to the Patriots losing) I'm good. I thought the team that deserved to win won that game. The giants defense killed the pats, the pats came out without energy, Brady looked uninterested for the most part, and if you're going to leave Burress wide open with single man coverage in the end zone with 30 seconds left it's hard to act surprised that you lose.

Jen said...


I see I see! Honestly I really can't see that much difference between the two as I read them, but whatever floats your boat :)

... And I haven't posted anything on that blog for years. I closed it down quite a while ago. Thanks for the curiosity though!

Jason said...

This makes me think of:

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

We're all completely lost until Christ comes and finds us. I think we all have a part of us what wants to have someone care enough about us to come looking for us. I certainly do. I appreciate the reminder that Christ did that for me.

Brenda said...

I have a couple of things...

First, if I lived anywhere with a few hour drive to where ever it is you live (I'm in the lower left corner of your right palm), I totally would have been planning to come to your shindig and thus would have send you a painfully disappointed email. As it was, I was watching and excited to hear all about it. And on that note, we got 10 inches of snow and freezing rain yesterday and had school today. (whimps)

Second, "we all want to be found". Wow. I had to let my eyes stop and rest right there so I could take a breath. I can relate to your college story; I never actually hid in a closet but I sure did other stupid things to make myself the center of attention when I wanted to be 'found'. I was one of those who acted like I'm running away when really all I wanted was someone to follow me, chase me. I ran from our Father for 33 years, but spent all that I remember hoping to be found.

I think I will be reading this one to my favorite senior high students.

What a beautiful post.
What a beautiful picture you have painted.

Please don't stop writing.

Rebeccamh said...

Wow. Although its been described many times in many ways, today that answered my question to this: http://bcks2.blogspot.com/2009/08/poorly-placed-jealousy.html. Thanks for that.