After we moved from Northern VA to NY, a few things “went missing.”
My spoon rest from Italy. A binder of recipes handwritten by my aunt. One lone black sandal.
I looked for these missing things for awhile, sorting through the clutter of boxes and piles, scrounging around in the basement, trying to remember where I had packed them. But eventually, I just gave them up for lost. I started referring to them as “things lost by The Move” – as if The Move was this thoughtless beast who left precious things behind.
But in reality, I think I lost them.
Somewhere between my shock over having to move at all and the endless trips to the storage unit we rented for “staging,” I think I might have even thrown some of them away.
Just recently, I couldn’t find this particular ice pack (I know it’s weird to have a “particular ice pack,” stay with me). My husband bought for me after I had a tooth pulled on my 29th birthday when my daughter was only two months old. (Yes, I had a tooth pulled on my birthday when I had a newborn. Hence, “particular ice pack.”)
The thing is – I desperately wanted to find it.
I remember the day he bought it so clearly, how he left the house after the tooth-pulling-incident trying to do anything he could to “fix” the situation, to make me better. So he went to CVS and bought a “fancy” ice pack and gelato. It sounds ridiculous, but somehow the ice pack was a tangible comfort to me, a reminder that tooth or no tooth, I was loved.
And I’ve needed that reminder lately.
I don’t know why I didn’t just go out and buy a new one. Maybe part of me felt like I didn’t “need” a fancy ice pack. Or maybe I still felt guilty for losing the first one.
But last week, there was a resurrection. Abigail was visiting, unpacking her cooler after the long drive, and out came my ice pack. Apparently she had it all these years.
It’s weird to cry over an ice pack. Even a “particular” one. But I did. Not just because I found it, but because God showed me how wrong I’ve been all these years about the things lost by The Move.
I always thought that God wanted to use the whole losing experience to show me my faults. Maybe He wanted me to reap the consequences of my disorganization or teach me to be a better steward.
But maybe that’s not how God works at all.
Maybe He doesn’t want to teach painful lessons.
Maybe He just wants to be the One Who Restores What Is Lost.
In Joel 2:25, God tells his people, “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”
Israel’s entire harvest had been destroyed by swarms of locusts for 4 years. They lost everything. Way more than an ice pack.
But after the hunger and the disappointment and the feeling like all of their hard work was wasted, God restored.
He said, “Behold I am sending you grain, wine, and oil…the threshing floor shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil…you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.” (Joel 2:18, 24, 26).
Just as God restored Israel’s harvest, He will restore what you have lost.
I can’t promise how or when or what that will look like, but I can promise that God sees your losses. And He will give you beautiful gifts in those empty spaces.
Maybe after the loss of a friend, He will provide a new community.
Maybe after the loss of your health, He will give you greater knowledge of Jesus.
Maybe after the loss of a career or a hope or a dream, He will take you on beautiful paths you never dreamed you would travel.
Or maybe, like the Israelites, He’ll just give you a big bumper crop 4 years later. And lots of good wine. That’s what I’m hoping for.
WORSHIP | City of Hope