I couldn’t help thinking about the parable of the lost coin. I had several errands to run on Friday—mail a few things at the post office, make a deposit at the bank, drop off some things at the cleaners, and go to the grocery store. Before I left, I sat at the dining room table writing out birthday cards and checks to go in them and getting my deposit ready to go. Bob had something to go to the post office, too—a box he was sending to a client—and he stood at the table getting it ready to go. When he was finished he brought in the mail that had just been delivered and sorted it out there on the table next to me.
I had just completed the deposit slip when the phone rang. As I chatted with my friend Marilyn it crossed my mind that I needed a paper clip for the two checks and deposit slip. I remembered seeing a paper clip on the nightstand next to my bed. I headed for the bedroom, and as I talked with Marilyn, wandered around the house doing this and that.
My phone call over, and my work at the table done, I finished getting dressed and made lunch for Bob and Robbie. I was in a hurry. Bob was sick and I wanted to get the errands run and come home again as quickly as possible so that he wouldn’t have to do much for Robbie while I was gone. At last, I picked up my purse and the things going to the post office and cleaners, and left.
I was still sitting in the garage when I suddenly thought, “Where is the deposit?” I looked through the mail on the seat next to me. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t in my purse, either. Great. I went back into the house, expecting to see it still on the dining room table. Nope. Checked my bedroom to see if I had left it there when I went after the paper clip. It wasn’t there, either.
“Bob, I can’t find the deposit!” I said, perplexed and a little worried. It was more than $2500. How could I have lost it in the span of an hour?
“Where did you leave it?” he asked. Uh, if I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for it. He joined me in the search.
We looked everywhere, scouring the house. It had to be there. We went back out to the car, emptying the bag of laundry going to the cleaners; checking through the mail meant for the post office again. The mail. Uh, oh—did I accidentally put the deposit in one of those sealed envelopes? We carefully opened each piece (including four greeting cards which left them looking a little worse for the wear), but it wasn’t there. Bob opened the box he was mailing, slicing through the mile of packing tape he had used. Not inside the box. He went through the big stack of mail that had just been delivered and he had sorted out on the table. Nothing.
I was really getting worried by that time. We started over again, checking and double-checking on one another in case one of us just wasn’t seeing it. By that time, I wasn’t just worried about the deposit, I was worried about my mind! Was I getting Alzheimer’s? Why couldn’t we find that stupid thing? Actually, I felt like I was the stupid thing—and old. Of all my senior moments, this one was really a doozy–$2500 worth of doozy.
We started looking in all the unlikely places—the refrigerator, microwave, garbage, under the bathroom sink—in case I really did do something Alzheimer-ish with it. By that time I was crying, and I must confess, secretly hoping it had been Bob’s senior moment, and not mine, that had caused the disappearance of the deposit!
We prayed about it. Lord, open our eyes! We called my mom and daughters, asking them to pray with us. And we kept searching, checking the same places, two, three, five times, in case somehow we had just not seen it. I re-opened the greeting cards, making them appear even worse, just in case I hadn’t looked in the envelopes thoroughly enough the first time! You know what the definition of insanity is, don’t you? So I was either insane or losing my mind.
It had been almost three hours that we’d been searching non-stop when finally Bob said, “Well, just go run the other errands. Our brains are too frazzled now. Maybe we’ll find it later when we have fresh eyes.” I gathered up my purse, the things going to the post office and cleaners, and headed for the door.
Suddenly the thought crossed my mind, did you check the wastebasket in your bedroom? I didn’t remember doing that, so I reversed course and went to look. There, in the bottom of the empty wastebasket, was the deposit slip and two signed checks.
Relief—but bittersweet relief. I had absolutely no recollection of going anywhere near that wastebasket, let alone throwing the deposit away. So it was my senior moment and not Bob’s, after all, and that didn’t make me feel too good—but praise and thank the Lord! The lost was found!
While we were searching, I thought about the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15. Remember this? Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:8-10) I kept thinking of that word, rejoice, praying and looking forward to our lost and found moment!
The parable of the lost coin in set right between two other parables in Luke 15—the parable of the lost sheep (vs. 4-7) and the parable of the lost [prodigal] son (vs.11-32.) Jesus often taught with parables—short stories, or word pictures, that used comparisons or likenesses to illustrate concepts or principles. On this occasion, Jesus was speaking to two groups of people—the publicans and sinners, and the scribes and Pharisees.
The Pharisees had an exalted opinion of themselves, believing they were close to God, and considered the others to be trash—and Jesus even worse in that he chose to eat and associate with sinners (vs. 1-2.) Jesus had a message for the Pharisees—that though they thought they were the beloved of God, He had a deep love for the lost and “had come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) He had a message for those sinners listening to Him, as well—that God has a personal, tender, joyous love for each one of them and that He would not give up on them.
In the parable of the lost coin, some commentators have stated that the ten silver coins belonging to the woman actually refer to a piece of jewelry with ten coins on it. This was bridal jewelry—something we could compare to our wedding ring of today. Can you imagine if you lost your wedding ring? You would look everywhere for it. You’d feel sick about losing it, and rejoice when you found it, just as this woman did.
We actually see parallels between the three parables in Luke 15. In each one the main character (the shepherd, the woman and the father) possesses something that he or she cherishes and does not want to lose. Each of them rejoices in finding that which was lost—and does not rejoice alone, but calls in the friends and neighbors to rejoice with him! And it was not just a financial loss to each of these people, but a personal one—the shepherd cared about the lost sheep, the woman treasured her bridal jewelry, the father loved his son.
The word picture that we see in Luke 15 is this: that God seeks out lost sinners (which includes each one of us) to restore our relationship with Him. He loves us with a tender, diligent love—never giving up on us—and rejoices over each sinner who repents and returns to Him.
The main characters in the parables represent God and characterize His attitude toward the lost, but I believe we could also apply this story to our attitudes concerning those around us who are lost without the Savior. The woman in the parable was painstaking in her search. She lit a lamp in order to shed light on her search. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the world (John 1:9; 8:12.) How often do we share Jesus with others? She looked carefully, reaching into places with her broom that might have been inaccessible, never indifferent but industrious. How much effort are we willing to expend in reaching the lost? She could have been content with the nine pieces that were left, but no, she refused to give up on the lost one. Do we give up when we do not see fruit quickly enough? And when the lost was found, the woman celebrated, rejoicing over the treasure that had been restored unto her. Do we truly realize the significance in the salvation of another? Jesus said when he finished telling this parable, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10) If even the angels rejoice, perhaps we could muster up more than a momentary, “Well praise the Lord!”, couldn’t we?
There was rejoicing in this house when we found those checks the other day, I can tell you! I’m still a little worried about my mind, but well, I guess I’ll just have to trust the Lord for that. This little episode of lost-and- found, though, brought to mind the parable of the lost coin and how our Father rejoices over each of us who once were lost and now are found!