Lost wallets, coins, sheep and people

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I have a special wallet. In that wallet are 12 credit cards or bank cards. It’s actually a separate wallet from the one that carries my driver’s license, insurance cards, cash, other forms of identification, and a badge that I received from the police department after retiring from the volunteer chaplain’s job after 25 years. So, when my credit card wallet turned up missing, there was a problem.

I used credit cards twice that day. I met someone for lunch at a restaurant and picked up the tab. Credit card use #1. After lunch, I filled the tank up with $38.00 worth of gas. Credit card use #2. That was about 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

I didn’t think about the wallet until I was preparing to go to dinner with a motorcycle club I belong to. As I was putting items into my pockets, I noticed that the credit card wallet (hereafter referred to as simply “the wallet”) wasn’t with my other stuff that I had put on the kitchen table after work.

“Oh, well,” I thought, “I’ll use cash tonight and locate the wallet later.”

I returned home about 9:15 p.m. and began my search. Nothing. Not in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, home office, of anywhere on the floor. Hmmm.

“I must have left it at the office,” I mused. So, I went back to my office. Nothing. I spent about twenty minutes going through stuff on the desk, in the desk, on the computer stand, under the computer stand, on the floor, in the rest room … nada. Nothing.

Thus began a thorough search of the car. On the seat, under the seats, on the dash, on the floor, in the visors … Nothing. So I began a journey. The search took me to the gas station, to a restaurant where I had picked up a newspaper from the box outside the restaurant after I had gotten gas, to the food market where I purchased a few Jelly Bellies. Same result. No one had seen a wallet and no one had turned one in.

I returned home and searched the car again. I also searched the house again, all with the same results. Conclusions: (1) I had lost my wallet and someone now had it and was spending money like crazy, maxing out all my cards on the internet. (2) I had cleaned the car out after getting gas and had inadvertently thrown away the wallet with the trash. So I called to check if the trash was still in the can. And, of course it wasn’t. It had been emptied into a compacter around 4 p.m.

Either way, my cards were gone. Hopefully, they were not in the hands of people who were having an early Christmas. At midnight, I went to bed.

The next day I arose early and searched the house and the car one last time. I found three ink pens and some loose change but no wallet. With a heavy heart, I went to the office to begin the task of calling all the credit card companies with the sad and bad news. I decided to do one more search of the office and checked, yet again, in every conceivable location.

Finally, I got on my hands and knees (again) and looked under the desk (again) and … there it was! Concealed by a red gift bag, under which it hid, was my wallet! How it got there, I know not. How I missed it earlier, I cannot explain.

I was elated! No 10 to 14 days without plastic! No calling 12 different companies to cancel my cards! No fear of being a trillion dollars in debt by day’s end! I was a happy, yet weary, man. For several hours, my time was consumed by the search for the wallet and the plastic riches it contained. Having found it, it was worth every minute.

The Parable of the Lost Coin is one of the parables of Jesus. It appears in Luke 15:8–10. In it, a woman searches for a lost coin, finds it, and rejoices. It is a member of a trilogy on redemption that Jesus tells after the Pharisees and religious leaders accuse him of welcoming and eating with “sinners.”

The other two are the Parable of the Lost Sheep, and the Parable of the Lost Son or Prodigal Son.

As recounted in Luke 15, a woman with 10 silver coins (Greek “drachmae” — about $50 per coin in today’s currency) loses one. She then lights an oil lamp and sweeps her house until she finds it, rejoicing when she does:

“Or what woman, if she had 10 drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn’t light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.’ Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting.”

The parable is not about a coin, of course. Or sheep. Or wallets. It is about lost people, lost in the sense that they are away from God and are in places they were never created to be. The woman searched for the lost coin and finally finds it. She is so excited that she has an “I found the coin party.”

Similarly, the shepherd goes in search of the one lost sheep, leaving the other 99 in the flock behind until the wandering sheep is found and brought back home.

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son leaves the father deliberately, rebelliously, and disrespectfully. Yet, the father (a symbol of God) never quits looking for and seeking the son’s return. When he does return, the son, expecting rebuke and rejection, is surprised by a homecoming party in his honor. The lost was found.

I thought about those parables, especially the Lost Coin parable, as I searched for hours. I must admit that I nearly lost hope. It almost felt like a miracle when the wallet was found. I rejoiced!

The world is full of people who are, in the biblical sense, lost. Yet, as the parables demonstrate, they are valuable to the One who never gives up on them and ever searches for them in His desire to bring them to Himself — to bring them home.

As we say at our church almost every Sunday at the close of the service: “God loves you. He has forgiven you. He is not angry with you. And He will never leave you or forsake you.” And to that we could add, “You are valuable to Him. He will never stop searching for you until He brings you home.” You are much more valuable than a wallet.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Diocese of the Mid-South which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at bishopdavidepps@gmail.com.]