Yesterday my family rode an hour north of town to look at 56 acres that are for sale. The property was great. The rolling pastures, hardwoods and 3 ponds seemed to be the perfect mixture of a Norman Rockwell painting and the backdrop of Little House on the Prairie. I don't know that we will purchase the land but I know the most valuable part of the trip was how much fun the boys had running, exploring and getting lost in nature.
One part of the land was covered with a tall wheat-like grass that was thick and came up to my waste. I could see my oldest son's head bouncing across the field and whipping between the tall blades. My younger two boys were too short to see them so I had to occasionally call out to them and ask them to hold up their hands or at least answer me. As is usually the case, the younger two were trying to follow and keep up with their big brother. And, as usual the biggest boy was trying his best to be on his own and find his own path.
At one point while my wife and I were walking through this tall grass together I saw the youngest trying to keep up with his brothers. Had he tried to see me he wouldn't have been able to because of the high grass. He was running as fast as he could and since his brothers weren't running too fast he started gaining ground on them. As he finally got close enough to them to see them, he stopped and looked around. It was as though he had lost something or found something he wasn't expecting. Within a few moments he started to cry and yell "Daddy?"...as though he was asking, "Daddy, where have you gone". I started to run toward him to let him know that though he couldn't see me, I could certainly see him. As he began turning around he got tangled in some briars and my trot became a quick jog...I couldn't get there soon enough and he continued to cry. Finally he saw me getting near him and you could see the stress begin to dissipate.
Before I even got to him I reassured him and then once I was close enough I picked him up from the briars and wiped his tears. I made sure he didn't have any cuts from the briars and I told him that even though he could see me, I was very aware of where he was so that means he was never lost. He said, "Dad, I couldn't find you. I thought I was following you but it wasn't you". I told him that he doesn't have to find me as long as I find him and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
What amazing symbolism! What an amazing image of God.
How often do we run after a thing we think is right or believe that catching will fulfill us, only to find out that we have chased the wrong thing and in so doing have ended up in a place we never intended to go. When that happens we look for God, our "Daddy" and though we can't see him, he is certainly moving in our direction. He gets to us and removes us from the briars and holds us as we get back on the path. We learn from our Daddy that we were only lost from our perspective and that he knew where we were the whole time.
That is amazingly comforting and amazingly simple. God is a really incredible Daddy that always finds me in the midst of the wilderness.