Our son, Brian, lost his cell phone somewhere between here and Western Massachusetts, over two hours away, and we got a text from his friend Alex’s phone asking for our help. After some technological finagling courtesy of my husband, and some help from a satellite in the sky, we were able to ascertain the phone’s location, on the roadside of the Massachusetts Turnpike westbound, an hour away from Brian and over an hour away from us. It was past 9:00pm, pitch dark, and about to pour torrential rains across the state. We were able to see that the phone had 10% of its battery life. It was mission impossible.
And yet, filled with hope and youthful exuberance, Brian and Alex jumped in a car to retrieve the lost phone, and I started praying. For their safety, primarily, but also for their success. Phones are expensive, and the kid didn’t have the means to replace his.
So my husband sent them a screenshot of a map of the phone’s location, and we waited, old West Wing episodes playing on the tv in the background, and Hail Marys running through my mind. In the meantime, the boys had linked up the screenshot with Google maps and started back East. They drove as close as they could approximate, got out of the car, and walked a bit down the side of the busy highway, all the while discerning familiar and geographic landmarks. When we got a text from Alex saying they believed they were close, we activated the phone’s sound alert. At that point, the phone was at 4% of its battery life and the rain was eminent. Something in my head said to get on my knees, so I did. My husband was certain the whole thing was a waste of time, hopeless. We waited.
And it’s hard to believe, but against all odds, with the help of people, their own intelligence and senses, some pretty amazing technology, and a satellite in the sky, those boys found that phone within about ninety seconds. It was perfectly operational and so were they, thank God, so they headed back to Western Massachusetts and I started up some Kirk Franklin praise music, dancing in my kitchen with my hands up, filled with gratitude and joy at the goodness of God.
What was lost was found.
What had been discarded and most likely gone forever had been rescued, restored, and redeemed. It was a Hallelujah story, and worthy of dancing.
We all get lost sometimes, or we leave something of ourselves behind that we really need. Retracing our steps to find what is lost can be one of the bravest things we’ll ever do; most never even attempt it, and it’s almost impossible without a good friend to travel with on the journey. Sometimes it takes more than our own senses or even the company and encouragement of a good friend, and that’s when we need to ask for help beyond ourselves, as Brian asked for our help from so far away. And often, sadly, even that is not enough, especially when we’re depleted and running out of energy.
Finding a lost phone at night on a highway is like finding a needle in a haystack. There’s no way to retrieve something like that without the help of GPS, a global positioning system. The way that actually works is far too technical for me to understand, but this I do know: something from deep within calls out and something from far beyond answers.
When we’ve lost a piece of ourselves, and it’s too dark to see, we need help beyond what a human can do. That’s when we look to the skies, quite literally, for help. Because nothing is ever lost, not really, to the One who sees it all. And if you listen really carefully, you’ll hear that broken piece calling out to you for restoration, and in time, you’ll find it once again. And then you can call and pray and praise and dance around your kitchen, or you can sit quietly in your friend’s car and wonder at your luck, looking up at the sky and silently thanking God who has counted every hair on your head, who knows your whole story, and all the pieces, and how they fit, and who loves you with a love you can’t begin to imagine. It’s amazing grace.