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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

Lost and Found

A dear friend, Jeff, whom I have known and loved for many years now, just reminded me of this final section of a book I wrote long ago. Finding Our Way Home is out of print, but these words (reprinted below) still seem poignant as I ponder our wanderings through life, how easy it is to get lost, and how much we need to be found.

One afternoon when Lisa and I were coming home through O’Hare International Airport, we encountered a little seven-year-old girl we later found out was named Chloe. We watched as Chloe raced toward the tram leading from Terminal 1 to the remote parking lot at O’Hare International Airport. She led the way as her mother wheeled a baby stroller and held a toddler by the hand. Chloe bounded onto the tram, pony-tail bouncing and freckled-face smiling, then turned to watch as the glass doors began to close between her and the rest of her family. She reached out her hand and cried out, “Mommy,” but by then it was too late. The tram was off to the next stop as Chloe’s face and her mother’s both crumpled into fear and anxiety.

I write this book because I empathize with Chloe. It seems to me that we are all lost in a way, or in a hundred ways. We are alienated and separated from places of secure love. It is so easy, so natural, to charge ahead in life without realizing what we might be leaving behind, and as a result we sometimes find ourselves quite lost in the daily matters of life. How often do we charge forward, heading toward the next promotion, seeking relief from pain, striving for material markers of success or the next thrill, without realizing that we are moving too fast or in the wrong direction, moving away from sources of secure love? It may be that we are distracted or seduced or deceived, or perhaps we are just much weaker and prone to sin than we think, but whatever the cause of our misdirection the truth is that we sometimes get lost.

Lisa and I decided to get off with Chloe at the next tram stop, to wait with her until her mother arrived on the next tram. My hope is that this book is a bit like that—an opportunity for me to wait with you, and you with me, as we figure out what to do next. Perhaps you are in a strained relationship and longing to find your way home to a person you still care about. Maybe you have left behind important moral values and are trying to reclaim the person you once were. Possibly the faith of your childhood is looking better with each passing year and you are wondering how to recover it. For my part, I am a middle-aged man in a fairly privileged life who is prone to all of these wanderings and more. I find I must come back, over and over, to the relationships and values and faith that define me and give me joy and purpose in life. I am both lost and found.

But there is also a bigger story I have tried to tell in this book. It is not just that we are lost in the various circumstances of daily living, but each of these circumstances serves as a living metaphor for a larger truth about being lost, wandering outside of Eden, until we are found by God. In this, Chloe represents all of humanity. We have charged ahead to follow our own paths, and have ended up alienated, reaching out for God just as Chloe stretched out her hand and cried, “Mommy.”

Fortunately, Chloe’s mother was a fast-thinker. She got on the emergency phone system and had the PA announcer tell Chloe to wait for her at the Terminal 2 tram stop. Chloe didn’t need to spend time searching for her mother, because her mother was coming to find her. Eight minutes later mother and daughter were reunited, and together they got back on the tram to head home. We could spend our whole lives searching for God, but God has a better plan. God came to meet us in our alienation and fear. And God still comes, in the darkest moments of life and in the brightest moments and the average moments, too, to comfort and care for us, to show us the way to abundant life, to lead us home to places of secure love. Someday that home will be unimaginably complete and beautiful.

When Chloe was racing toward the tram in Terminal 1, she was preoccupied with getting there as fast as she could. But a few seconds later, as the tram pulled away with her mother and siblings on the other side of the glass door, she understood what she really wanted. In the pain of her alienation she saw her longings for love. I imagine later that night, as Chloe nestled into her familiar bed, she smiled and thanked God for being home. She was home, where she was close to her mother, where she had everything that is truly important. What she wanted and what she had were aligned, and she rested secure in the presence of love.

(Finding Our Way Home, pages 186-189)


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