“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins 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.”
– Luke 15:8-10
Chapter 15 of Luke is a chapter dedicated to the lost and found. The first few verses deal with a lost sheep. These three verses deal with a lost coin. The rest of the chapter is the parable of the prodigal son. There have been many sermons about the lost sheep and the prodigal son. I love Timothy Keller’s The Prodigal God, if you want a really good look at that parable.
As for this story, I decided to give some love for the three little verses in the middle. After all, the only lost thing that was inanimate in Luke 15 was the coin. Although we sometimes think inanimate objects have a mind of their own, they don’t really. In comparison, a lost sheep and a lost son can decide to be lost. At least, they can both wander. The coin is a slave to gravity. It simply fell between sofa cushions or rolled along the floor, coming to rest beneath the refrigerator that hasn’t been moved in ten years.
What, then, of the sock? First, two back stories.
Story One starts about 35 years ago. My wife washed and put away the clothes. I woke in the middle of the night and drove to work each day in those days. I simply grabbed a pair of socks. I thought they were navy blue in the dim artificial light. Actually, one was black and the other was brown. I suffered through the multitude of jokes about having a pair just like that at home all day long. It was if my co-workers got together and each individually had a chance to both laugh and scoff, rather one group joke at my expense. That night, I unfolded all my socks. I had a variety of pairs or brown-blue, brown-black, and blue-black. I guess in artificial light, they all looked the same. My wife suggested Argyles. Even then there have been tiny fashion screw-ups with the same colors, but opposite patterns.
Story Two is from this past Christmas. When growing up, I hated opening Christmas presents with “FROM: MOM” on the tag. It was either socks or underwear. This past Christmas, my wife gave me a unique package of three pairs of socks. I loved it. Argyles are so hard to find these days. They are cycling out of fashion, I suppose. In past years, if you found the “buy two and get the third pair free” sale, the bundle of socks would be one Argyle, one striped or spotted, and one of a solid color. This unique gift was three pairs of Argyle socks. When I opened the package, my heart actually skipped a beat. (Maybe I should tell the Cardiologist about that…)
I wasted no time in wearing each of the three pairs. They were all blue-grey-khaki combinations. All the colors were muted. They would go with just about anything that I had in the closet.
One of my chores upon retirement is laundry. It’s easy. We have three things in the basement: The laundry room, my computer area, and storage. Okay, the hot water heater and boiler are there, but they just sit in the corner of the room. The laundry baskets are in a room on the first floor, stationed in front of the ironing board. I grab the baskets and look for any loose items and then I’m off for my twice each week chore.
But soon after Christmas, I folded the clothes to see the light blue Argyle did not have a mate. I nearly cried. Those Argyles were a gift from my wife and I had grown attached to them. And I only got to wear that one pair once? How unfair!!
I told myself to stop panicking, dummy. Retrace your steps. I looked around the ironing board, the path to the basement, inside the washer and drier, and even between the sofa cushions where I fold the clothes. Nothing. Then four days later, I pick up the laundry baskets for the next trip to the laundry room. On the top of one pile of clothing was the missing sock. Had it been lost behind the furniture? Had it been washed, dried, and put away, inside a pants leg? Did any of that matter?
My lost sock was found? Let’s celebrate!
How should I celebrate? I know. I’ll wear that very pair of socks tomorrow when we go do our grocery shopping.
Fast forward to the next laundry day. When folding the clothes, I find one missing sock. It is the same pair of socks! I don’t know about you, but when something happens to me twice in a week’s time, I think that God is speaking to me. I again retrace my steps with no luck. Four days later, the day that I wrote this, I picked up the laundry baskets. When I did my double check to ensure I have everything, I see the space heater that my wife had placed in front of the ironing board. She uses this particular room to be secluded for her Bible study and prayer time. Behind the space heater was the missing sock.
Again, praise and thanks to God. It is a time to celebrate. This time with all the people who read this blog.
You see when we turn our back on God, we aren’t ‘lost.’ God knows exactly where we are. But we are spiritually lost because sin keeps us from seeing God clearly or even seeing God at all.
I recently went to the eye doctor because I was seeing lightning flashes in one eye. He dilated the eye and when he looked into the eye, he nearly lost his calm demeanor. He really got upset. He eventually told me that I had no retinopathy. In other words, no tears or detachment of the retina. Yeah! He explained that when you age, the vitreous in your eye turns from a gel into a liquid, from the center out. When you get old, the gel layer becomes thin and the gel can break off. When that happens, it tugs on the retina, causing the lightning flashes. A sharp, sudden tug can damage the retina. When that happens, your eye fills with blood and you are blind in that eye until the doctor fixes the problem. My wife had three tears on the retina in one eye as her eyes reached that point. Most people never notice, because the change is too gradual. I only must be careful through this danger stage to avoid any retina problems. This was the diagnosis and prognosis, but not the source of the doctor’s ‘anger.’
He was very upset, nearly saying naughty words, because he couldn’t see the retina clearly.
He told me, “You have severe dry eye. Your cornea has cracks. It is so dry. You also have cataracts. To see your retina, I must dodge around the cracks in your cornea, AND dodge around the cataract to see what I need to see!” I probably didn’t use enough exclamation points. Then the lecture started. He could not believe that I had no foreign body sensation due to the dry eye. Between you and me, I have had dry eye for so long (over ten years), I don’t feel the pain anymore. WARNING: When you stare at the computer screen for most of your life, you don’t blink enough. Severe dry eye will be one of the leading illnesses in the future.
Sin does that to our eyes when we are lost from God. The longer since we looked in God’s direction and the more sin, the sin builds up more scratches and cracks on our spiritual cornea. It makes the lens develop such nasty cataracts that we can barely see our sin, much less see a loving God who is waited for us to say, “God, help me.”
But, when one soul is saved, saved from being lost, there are trumpet blasts in heaven. There are bells ringing. There is shouting, joy, and laughter.
Yes, I found a lost sock. With its track record, I will be looking for it again.
But each soul that repents and follows Jesus is saved for eternity.
Praise the Lord!
John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship, became an abolitionist and Anglican priest. He suffered from poor eyesight also. Did he have dry eye and cataracts? He wrote these words in the first verse of Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”
He knew. We are lost, but only because we don’t want to see God while in our sinful state. Use some spiritual artificial tears if you must. Clear your spiritual eyes and seek God. God, as the loving father in the parable of the prodigal son, is watching and waiting for us to see Him. When he sees us looking toward Him, wanting Him, God will come running to meet us half way.
It will truly be a time to celebrate.