Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lost & Found

"Forgive Me" artist unknown

I'm a sinner. Nothing new there. I say it not as a new revelation but because I was so humbled today by the truth of that statement.

It began with a stolen wallet.

I am currently out-of-state visiting family with my 12-month-old daughter, Sophia. Well, this afternoon when I went to pay for some greeting cards I wanted to purchase, I realized that my wallet was missing. My mother and I went back to her house and searched high and low. I remembered that I'd last had it last night at a gelato shop up the street where I went with a friend. I hurried over to the shop to check. No wallet. Came home. Searched the house again. Searched the car. No wallet.

Beginning to panic, I thought, well naturally I'll call my husband. He's so level-headed; he'll know just what to do. Then I remembered that my stalwart knight-in-shining-armor is currently camping in the backwoods of MN with some friends. They don't even have electricity, let alone cell phone reception. Okay, Bethany, looks like you'll have to deal with this one on your own.

"O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You." (Psalm 69:5)

Foolish, foolish! Don't I know that I can do nothing on my own, yet with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26)?

Of course, I offered up a prayer to the Lord (mainly a desperate request to have my wallet returned to me), but I confess I did not take time to rest in Him, to wait and listen for any wisdom He might bestow upon me in this situation, to be shaped by Him in my circumstances rather than by my circumstances. All I could think about was how violated I felt and about all the things I would have to do in order to get my daughter and me safely home with no bank card, credit card, or photo ID.

I got my husband's social security number from my mother-in-law to cancel our one credit card. Thankfully, there had been no charges placed on it. There was no hope of getting a new license issued and mailed to me in time. But (praise God!) I had had my husband mail me my passport before he left town, just in case my mother and I wanted to take the baby on a trip to Niagara Falls. Thank Gracious Providence, I thought, He must have foreseen this. At this point, I even gave myself a little *sinful* pat on the back that I was able to praise God for this turn of fortune in the midst of my troubles. Oh, had I only heeded the words of Ecclesiastes 7:8,

"The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."

Oh, but I was angry! I felt so violated. Didn't the thief who took my wallet (containing only $10, no less) think about how it could affect me? What if I hadn't any relatives. The wallet had been in a baby stroller--who steals from a mother with an infant? What if I'd needed to drive home with no license? What if my husband hadn't mailed my passport? I'd be stranded in NY with my daughter for heaven knows how long! I was furious and so deeply hurt, and I said, oh, some deeply uncharitable things about this unknown thief. I am ashamed that I did not once pray for them or for their redemption. No, I wanted justice. Cold, hard justice. And, even in the midst of my fury, I was convicted:

"Judge not that you be not judged." (Matt. 7:1)

Brushing aside my conscience and still fuming, I headed out to the bank to cancel my card and issue a new one. Then, I thought, let's take one last look in my mother's car. Unbelievable though it may seem: the wallet was in the trunk. I'm still not certain how it got in there, but there is no doubt that my wallet was lost through my own foolishness. It was never stolen at all.

Now, the burden of what to do without my wallet lifted, I was left with the full weight of my sinful attitude and words. I thanked God that the wallet was found. And, then I fell on my face and asked forgiveness for my spiteful and judgmental spirit, my attitude of entitlement, my ingratitude, my selfishness, my pride, and my lack of reliance on God. I am sorry that I fell short of the test, this time. I pray that God can use my failure to teach me, to mold my heart and to refine my character. And, if one day I pass a similar test, I will be able to say with full confidence,

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26, emphasis mine)

Thank you, God, for justifying this lost sinner. For by the gift of your grace and mercy, I am found.


  1. Bethany,

    It's moments of panic like that (losing something, etc) that I often forget to stop and pray instead of relying on myself. I'm glad you found your wallet, and the greater joy....we should be totally lost in our sin, but God's grace rescues us, and we ARE found. What a joyful thing. It was nice to chat last night, let's do it again sometime soon!

    Have a lovely afteroon,

  2. Wow! You've humbled me. I don't think that I would have gotten past the anger and annoyance to have stopped and considered how God would want me to act in such a situation. You showed a lot of wisdom in just knowing where you fell short. Most people don't even have that knowledge.

  3. This was such a wonderful reminder to read. Thank you! How humbling.

    I love reading your post on A.A. Milne, too. :)

    Stop by my blog, if you have a chance- I gave you an "award!" :)


  4. Beautiful lesson and one we can all learn and grow from. I hope you are having a wonderful time with your family on *my* side of the country! :) Do let me know if you make any forays!

  5. LOL It sounds like you're describing me! Only I'm usually too self-absorbed to be humbled. {sigh}


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