“Before piano,” she replied almost inaudibly.
“That was two hours ago,” I thought. Sarah’s iPod had been a long-awaited birthday/Christmas gift from her Dad and me – the sometimes good, sometimes bad part of being born on December 22nd. “Well,” I said gently, “it’s probably gone, but it wouldn’t hurt to look. It couldn’t have gotten far.” Within minutes, all five of my kids had set off in search of the iPod, three on bikes and two on foot, with a plan and a purpose, but they returned home twenty minutes later, quiet and empty-handed, barely beating the rain. Well, that sure doesn’t help, I mused.
Rain fell steadily throughout the night and morning dawned gloomy inside and out. It wasn’t that the iPod was irreplaceable. It wasn’t, but it had been a gift, a gift my daughter had carelessly, irresponsibly lost, because she’d chosen to do the easy thing instead of the right thing, and the lesson stung.
Then my son’s voice broke the silence. “Mom! We think someone found Sarah’s iPod! Listen to this! ‘I found an item with your email address on it. Did you lose something recently? If so, please describe.’ Someone sent that email to Sarah’s account before the rain started yesterday.”
“Wow!” I thought. “Only God!” Excitement filled the air. We knew so little, nothing really – no details or name or phone number, yet those three simple sentences audibly, tangibly changed our morning, and questions abounded. Had Sarah’s iPod really been found? Where? By whom? Did we know the person? Was it a neighbor? Someone in our subdivision? How far had it gotten? Was it OK? Did it still work? Was it possible? Would Sarah really get it back? When? And what if she didn’t?
Oddly, the answers mattered less than the possibilities, and light slowly dawned in my soul. “Oh, Father,” I breathed, “is hope what’s missing in our world today? In our relationships? Our faith? Is it hope that our sin-shrouded world so desperately needs to feel and breathe and understand? The hope of unexpected, unearned, second chances? Of Your gentle, tender mercies new every morning? Of what can be instead of just what is? Oh, Father, what a truth to reveal through a simple earthly possession, an easily replaceable commodity! No wonder the answers don’t matter as much as the possibilities, because the lesson is the possibilities – HOPE – that mysterious, eternal longing deep in our souls for an intimate, unchanging-since-the-dawn-of-time relationship with You.”
As the sun set, a modern day Good Samaritan stood in my kitchen handing a nearly intact iTouch back to my daughter. It’d been rescued from an intersection more than half a mile away, and as I listened to the story, my heart sang praises to the Author of creation, the Hope of all the nations, the Savior and Redeemer of my soul. For only God could orchestrate such a lesson – eternal, extraordinary hope revealed in the very muddled midst of our humanness. Only God! To You be all the glory, now and forever. Amen!