Hawkeye Seventh-day Adventist® Church

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27:1



My theme for this week has become "Lost"! Again!


I was handed a well-known Farm magazine recently and came across a story that I found interesting, and it came close to home. Living on a farm and in a farming community, it is not hard to put yourself in the story. 


It all started when Farmer put his phone in his pocket and then bent over. What happened next has happened so often to my husband. The phone slipped from the pocket and fell—this time into 220,000 bushels of grain sorghum that was on its way out of the country to parts unknown! The farmer— (I would have too!) —assumed that phone was gone, lost—forever. What he didn't know was the phone was starting a 20,000-mile round trip. Nine months later it returned back to him. Surprised, dumbfounded, thankful, all are part of his story!


It all started in Oklahoma, at a co-op. The hopper door was a bit stubborn that day and Farmer bent a bit too low and felt the phone shoot from his shirt pocket. He watched it drop into the flow of grain and on into the pit below. That phone contained things that were disappointing to lose. Like pictures of his daughter's wedding. I know I would hate to lose what is on my phone! It has pictures of our grandkids and our kitties and around our home and activities—Nope! I don't want to lose my phone! But Farmer's phone was gone. He had nothing to say and nothing to do because no retrieval was possible. He knew where it was but knew he couldn't get to it. Out of sight, out of mind. It had fallen onto a series of conveyor belts, buckets, and legs—finally resting in the massive concrete storage silo elevator, along with millions of tiny sorghum grains. Unknown to Farmer, the Fall harvest was going to turn into a Summer blessing though.


The stowaway little phone was put on a barge to float down the Arkansas River, then onto the Mississippi River and finally arriving in Louisiana where it got dumped onto a ship headed for Japan. While there were multiple loadings and unloading taking place throughout the journey, the little phone remained cushioned inside the dry grain, escaping the many chances of getting smashed. Down deep inside a bulk shipping vessel, the little phone traveled through the Gulf of Mexico, into the Caribbean Sea, exited then through the Panama Canal, chugged across the Pacific Ocean, finally arriving at Japan and was offloaded at a feed mill where the grain was screened. It was then that the little phone was spotted by a diligent, caring mill worker. The caring watcher took the plight of the Little Phone all the way up his chain of employment until a call was made all the way back to Louisiana. It was then that Farmer received a phone call asking if he had lost a cell phone?  "Yes, I did—almost a year ago."  "Well, I've got your phone, what do you want me to do with it?"


Little Phone arrived back in Oklahoma in superb condition. It had been charged up back in Louisiana when it came back from Japan where it was found to belong to Farmer. And it arrived back to him in the same condition as the day it was lost and with all the pictures still in it.  Usually, a farmer never thinks about the grain after it leaves his hands. Once unloaded, it is out of mind because you have done your part. But this time he remembered that day nearly a year ago so very clearly. And gave thanks for the return.


My family has our own version of this story. My personal interest in this story happened when our son was working at a local grain company. One day he was working at a grain dump pit that hadn't been used all summer.  Not being used meant that the pit was full of dirty water from summer rains and runoff. As he was hard at work above the pit, suddenly his phone slipped away from him through the grate, landing—of course—in the pit of dirty water. Reaching for the phone didn't help. There was no way to rescue the phone. Lost forever! Not at all like us—as we are slipping away, God reaches out His hand to grasp ours and lift us up to safety.


This week, my husband needed to go out and about on one of the coldest nights we had this week. It was one of those bitter windchill nights of -40° or more. I gave him plenty of time to be done with his business. In fact, I thought it was more than enough time. I needed to know that he was safe. I wanted him home and out of the cold that was cold enough to cause terrible things to happen. When I get worried, I imagine all sorts of bad things that can happen. In my mind, there was a good chance he was lost—perhaps an accident or some trouble that was preventing him from answering his phone. The worried wife in me called seven times with no answer. My mind had him lost out of sight in a ditch. Thankfully, he arrived home as I was about to send out a search and rescue person. God also sends out search and rescue for us when we stray, don’t answer His call, and is always ready to rescue us.


I received a phone call this week asking if I still had a copy of a certain newspaper article, had I saved it, did I know where it was, could it be copied? The answer to all the questions was yes. But then I asked—where is your newspaper and article? That answer was “I can't find it. It is lost!” I can understand that—I lose many things that I should know exactly where they are. I don't put them away properly, so they get lost. I neglect putting things away at all and they get lost. I forget where I put them, and they are essentially lost. My family is good at using tools. They get many of them out to do a job. Then they do not finish the job and put their tools away! Next time the tool needs to be used, it can't be found. It is lost! Really it's just in the last place it was used but where was that? Many hours are spent looking and searching for the lost. 


All these lost thoughts made me remember another lost item we had years ago. We had been assigned a 4-church district in Northwest Iowa. The district was also home to a former church youth camp that was then for sale. The distance from the conference office was great enough that my Pastor husband was put in charge of showing the camp to interested buyers. The camp had many buildings and each building had multiple keys for various doors. And we were in charge of the very large key ring—perhaps 70 keys! Then came the day when we were scheduled to show a potential buyer the camp. We made sure all was in order long before the buyer arrived—NO KEYS anywhere! We immediately went into search and prayer mode. And continued searching and praying for several days. Still no keys. We envisioned having to call a locksmith and having to pay him to make 70 keys! Eventually there was nothing more we could do but go about our business. I needed to take some items back down to our basement, including a toy semi-truck. When it rattled, I wondered what kind of cargo it was hauling? A small 6-year-old boy was always looking for new cargo to haul. A large key ring of keys was a perfect cargo! But oh, the distress! And the continued looking for the lost keys! Reminds me of how much God is distressed over losing just one of his important members of his kingdom. He doesn’t give up easily, they need to be reclaimed and found at all costs—even to giving up His only Son for them. He never gives up looking for the lost, not at all as we did when we gave up our searching for the lost key ring!


We are traveling through life's journey with many pitfalls. And often we fall. We must travel through the same travels that Pilgrim did as he made Progress to heaven.


Often we land in dirty pits. If the pit is too deep and too dirty, we are hard to rescue. And the Farmer knows that we will be hard to save because we don’t know we need saving, and we don’t allow God to do it. We get in the slough of despair. Or we know we need saving but don’t know how. I can imagine the sadness of Farmer God at His loss--maybe me, maybe you, lost forever if we manage to slip away. But we can trust Him to send out search and rescue missions to make sure that we can be saved. God has given us many tools to use to keep us on track and able to handle the job of sanctification that He has given us to do. We need to keep track of our tools, use them frequently so that we can remember them.


Jesus understood the lost topic. We all are familiar with the Lost stories and parables. They are some of the most popular stories in the Bible and have been told and retold and used hundreds of times in sermons. We get lost by our own efforts. But it is not with our own effort that we get found. God shows us how we are lost. While we try to solve our own lost condition, God shows us that our efforts are futile. We need to focus on why we are the lost ones and look for God's directions for help to find those that are lost and seeking a way home. We need to let Him lead us on a path that will bring us back home.



P.S. Update on my former lost things—the ketchup finally got found and used. The missing dishpan was recently found under several things that should have been moved long ago.  And that same missing dishpan contained potatoes that also should have been used, long ago.  Lesson to learn—do not neglect to use what you have, or you will lose them. Keep using the talents God has given. Keep them fresh.

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Seeing God in Everyday Things