By Jim Newman

It was twenty-three years ago this spring that our young family was visiting the city of Philadelphia. Jean and I had taken our five-year old twins, Joseph and Michael, and our three-year old daughter, Debra, to see some of the many historical sites that were there. Jean’s brother, Neal, sister-in-law, Bunny, and their five-year old daughter, Leighanna, were also with us. As we got off the escalator on the second level of the big downtown train station, we all assumed that the kids were all accounted for. We were all looking around deciding where to go to exit the building when someone said, “Where’s Michael?” He wasn’t there! He had disappeared into the crowd.

As you can imagine, panic began to set in and we were all frantically panning the crowd, looking for a glimpse of him…, but to no avail. We said a quick prayer and two of us took off, continuing to pray as we searched for our lost son.

It seemed like an eternity went by, though in reality it was probably only a few very long and agonizing minutes. It was no consolation that the other three children were all safe. One was missing! We had to find our son who was lost, abducted, or who knew what! The fact that three of the four children were safe was great, but we had to find Michael! He was our focus. We would do everything and anything we could to find him. 

As I was somewhat frantically searching an area not too far from where the escalator was, I suddenly saw Michael coming toward me with a strange man who I assumed had found him and was helping him to find his family. I ran toward them and scooped-up Michael. I then began thanking the man for finding my son. He never even acknowledged me and just kept walking along. Apparently, he was just on his way to work and totally unaware that Michael was walking along beside him. It was then that I realized that Michael must have just headed off with the crowd when he got to the top of the escalator, thinking he was with the family. After wandering around for a bit he just “happened” to come walking back in the right direction. I know it was clearly an answer to our prayers.

What happened to our family that day in almost losing our child reminds me of God’s love and concern for the one who is lost. We love our son, Michael, as we love all our children, but how much more does God love each one of us. He seeks the one who is lost. Jesus, in fact, came, “to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10). He also told a parable about the shepherd who had 100 sheep. When one of them was lost he went out after that lost one and searched until he found it. The good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. That’s how much God loves and cares about each one of us! “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend,” (John 15:13).

Soon we’ll begin the Lenten season, culminating with Easter. May we all remember that Jesus came to seek and to save lost sinners, dying on the Cross to pay for our sins. “For God so loved the world that gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Where are you? Still lost? or found by your loving Savior?

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected].

Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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