Twelve years ago, on May 9th, Victory Day in Russia, I lost my four year old daughter, Sarah, for forty-five harrowing minutes in a crowd of thousands spread over a 100-acre amusement park. One minute, there she was, holding my hand. I was talking to friends, and I let go. Turned no less than thirty seconds later, and the girl had vanished.
Sarah has always followed her own creative spirit. She hated me combing her hair into high pigtails, or dressing her in frilly pink outfits. From birth, she had to do things her way, ruled by a fierceness that compelled her to wrestle her big brother, snarl at her babysitters and generally live as if she were Supergirl. (I still call her that). Probably, that day she'd had enough of being shackled to my confining grip, and decided she'd see the world on her own terms.
We were with a group of friends, and we scattered, searching for her. I stayed, rooted, in case she materialized, and prayed that God would send an angel to protect her until we found her. I'll never forget the smell of hotdogs and cotton candy in the air, the redolence of spring captured in the budding wildflowers, the tall grasses, the flow of people brushing past me, anxious to embrace summer in Siberia. (Hey - it goes fast, you gotta get it while the gettin's good!) I stood empty in all that life, thinking, how could I have let her go? Something deep inside me ripped opened, and I couldn't imagine life without my feisty daughter.
I couldn't let my thoughts travel there. I just kept praying, and searching.
God answered my prayers. A woman I barely knew, who had attended only one of my bible studies recognized my daughter, took her hand, and refused to let go (even when my friends and my husband found them!) until she returned Sarah to my arms. (And hey, no one gets between a Russian woman and her quest!)
Driving home on Friday, I recounted that story to Sarah. To my shock, she laughed and said, "Mom, I remember that. But I wasn't scared, because I wasn't lost. I knew where I was. I was -- well, right there, where I was."
I've been thinking about that weekend, the different perspectives we had. Of course, I knew the dangers of her wandering, but she didn't. And maybe, she has it right, too. Because God knew where she was. And she wasn't lost to Him. She was -- right there.
Do you ever feel as if you don't know where you're going? As if your life has spiraled out of your grip? As if you turned around, and suddenly, you find yourself in a place you never imagined? And don't know where to step next?
You're not lost. "Some wandered in desert wasteland, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way, to a city where they could settle."
I love Psalm 107, because regardless of my situation, I can find myself in one of the stanzas. And at the end of each, I hear the truth. God is there. Always there. To show me where to go, or rescue me for my own foolishness (or feistiness!), or break chains that have kept me in darkness. Just because I can't see the way out doesn't mean I'm lost, or without hope. God knows where I am, and he knows where I'm going. All I have to do is look for my Savior to take my hand, and ask Him today, what steps to take.
Today, stop trying to find your own way, stand where you are, and listen for His voice. He knows the way home.
Thank you all for reading, and for the notes and words of encouragement! I'm blessed by your kindness and I appreciate you!