“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
One afternoon, while sitting in my hotel room during a break in a conference, I decided to use the time to do some writing. It was quite and private, with little more than the distant sound of traffic passing by below my window.
Pecking away at the keys drew me deeper and deeper into my thoughts, as I searched for the best way to turn a phrase so as to say what was stirring in my heart. This process can cause all ambient noise to slowly fade away, and unleash great bursts of uninterrupted creativity. At least, that’s the hope we writers have when staring at a blank sheet of paper. On this particular day my hopes were being realized, and I was cruising with inspiration; hammering out a chapter for an upcoming book.
That’s when I first heard it. It was far enough in the background of my attention that I really didn’t notice it clear enough to tell what it was, but I knew that I distinctly heard it. Abruptly, I became more aware of my surroundings than I had been just moments earlier, and only then was I able to hear it even more clearly. And now it was unmistakable. I heard crying in the hallway.
What at first had sounded like the typical protesting of a small child not getting his way, quickly escalated to the sounds of full blown terror. And it wasn’t just one kid; there were at least two, literally screaming in fear just outside my door.
I leapt into action not knowing what I would find, but bracing myself for something awful from the sound of things. Opening my door I found two small boys, ages five and three, standing alone in the long hallway frightened out of their wits. They were lost in this large hotel, and the horror of their predicament was too overwhelming for their unseasoned minds to handle. The three year old was crying the loudest; and the five year old was trying to keep a brave face in spite of his own tears, but even he knew they were in real trouble. I could see it in his eyes.
Seeing me standing there helped….but only a little. After all, I was the dreaded stranger every kid is repeatedly warned about in these foul, self-indulgent days. Instinctively, I knelt down to eye level with the boys and spoke with a calm and reassuring voice, offered with a confident smile.
“Are you boys lost?” I asked, dismissing the obvious.
The five year old took heart and responded, “Yes, sir.”
They had pushed the wrong button on the elevator and got off on the wrong floor. Unable to find their room – panic hit them hard and that’s when crying turned to screaming just outside my door.
I offered my hand to him and said, “Let’s go down to the Hotel lobby and they will know how to find your mom and dad.” Once the five year old took my hand, his little brother took courage and came peacefully along with us, holding my other hand.
On the elevator I continued to calm them down by letting them push the buttons and feel some sense of control. And there I stood on the elevator holding hands with two little lost boys, reassuring them that everything would be alright, and asking them if Disneyland was as fun as they hoped it would be.
Once in the lobby, we found dad – grateful beyond words to see his boys safe and sound. He thanked me, hugged his boys with relief, and called off the hound dogs. I returned to the elevator to go back up to my room. The experience ended as quickly as it had started, and my afternoon was headed back into itself. That’s when the Spirit of the Lord spoke to my heart. He said five simple things.
First, being lost can be a really frightening thing to those who suddenly realize just how lost they truly are. Second, somebody somewhere needs to hear the cries of those who are lost and crying out for help. Third, upon hearing those cries, that somebody needs to do something to help those that are crying – even though it doesn’t fit into their plans for the day. Fourth, getting on their level and speaking in words they can understand is vital if one is serious about bringing the lost back to the father. And, fifth, delivering them safe and secure in the father’s presence is the goal. Our task isn’t over until that has occurred.
Hey, heard any crying lately? Its just outside your door. Listen for a minute; you’ll hear it. Really.