When I was a little girl, I looked forward to the Christmas bazaar my church hosted each fall. There were many enjoyable things at the bazaar, but I dreamt of the taste of the glass candy sold in the sweet shop and of Mildred Ringer’s divinity treats. Christmas crafts adorned the church in almost any media, all for sale, and just in time for Christmas. At the far end of the hall was the white elephant room. Scattered on the tables were the most interesting pretty things, and oh, the jewelry! How I loved the white elephant room! Through a child’s eyes, it was a treasure trove!
I keenly remember the day of the bazaar when I was in kindergarten because I received an unexpected gift. My mother had walked across the lawn from the church to my elementary school and had picked me up from the walker’s line. This was a special treat for me because I usually rode the school bus home. We hurried out of the school and back to the church to catch lunch before Mom was to begin a shift working at the bazaar.
I begged to take a quick look through the rooms before eating, hoping for a bag of glass candy-(cinnamon, no doubt). Mom treated me to a bag, but made me promise not to open it until after lunch. As we reached the white elephant room, my grandmother was waiting for me. In the palm of her hand she hid something as she leaned over to look me straight in the eye. “I got you something today,” she whispered. Then she opened her hand to reveal a shiny Christmas-tree brooch. That brooch was beautiful, and wearing it made me feel very grown up! It quickly became something I cherished and wore every Christmas with fond memories of the kindness Grandma had shown specifically to me that day.
More sadly than you may realize, my brooch disappeared during my college years. I looked for it repeatedly in my apartment and at home. I asked all my friends if I had loaned it to them, or left it with their things, but I never found it. After my husband Roger and I were married, we began scouring vintage jewelry displays at antique shops and flea markets, searching for my lost brooch. Was there any chance it might show up somewhere? When E-bay became a thing, I began searching for my brooch online. Meanwhile, Roger and more than one friend gifted me with other rhinestone Christmas-tree brooches, knowing how much mine had meant to me. I wore them proudly for the love they represented, but never without a longing for the one Grandma had given to me at the Christmas bazaar, which had made me feel so grown up and special.
A year ago on a whim, I looked through the E-bay lists once again and I spotted something. It was the same pin with the same arrangement of rhinestones. Could it be? I had to know! It wasn’t expensive, so I ordered it and eagerly waited two weeks for the brooch to arrive. I felt like a kid in an endless Christmas Eve.
The pin put a huge smile on my face when it arrived, because it reminded me of Grandma, but it wasn’t mine. Holding it in my hand, I realized that a small metal imperfection on the trunk of the tree was not present on this pin, and the trunk was not slightly ajar as mine had been. I knew exactly what my pin had looked like, down to the smallest detail, and this one was not it.
And so, I will continue to look until I find it, or…my eyes grow dim.
Searching for my Christmas brooch reminds me of something I learned about God a number of years ago. Listen to this:
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7
This story about a lost sheep appeared among several stories Jesus told about finding lost things. It appears that lost things are important to God as well! I will literally jump up and down if I ever find my own brooch from Grandma. However, it doesn’t compare to the celebrating that occurs in heaven when someone is reunited with God. In Jesus’ story, the shepherd leaves 99 sheep in the open country (a dangerous place) to find the one who is lost. That is the length to which He will go to bring us home to be with Him. He loves you deeply and seeks those who belong to Him. Realizing that this truth included me changed my life. There is nothing more wonderful than having the Heavenly Father, Creator of all things, seek you out to show you His love. ~Hence the words to that old traditional song, “I once was lost, but now I’m found!”
Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
He knows His sheep (John 10:4, 27). This fact sums up the hope in which I live every day. I am sought after by my Father in heaven who knows me and loves me. He is a good Father. He loves you and desires that you know Him as well. This is, in fact, our GREATEST unexpected gift!