In the Bible there are stories about lost things that are later found. There’s a story about a sheep, and a coin, and two sons (the three parables are meant to be read together). There is also a story about a man, reclaimed as a son of Abraham. There are others, too. Stories about lost things resonate with us. We all know what it is like to lose something, and we know the joy that comes when the lost thing is found.
This week I lost my wedding ring. It was a colder morning, and I was picking up leaves in the front yard. They were wet. And at some point, while working, my ring slipped from my finger, unnoticed.
Later that day I noticed the absence of the ring. I did not recall consciously setting it down, even though at one point in the morning I had marveled at how loose my ring had become.
We have a blue trash can that we gather leaves in, and my best guess was that it had slipped off there, that it had fallen in while I was gathering wet leaves.
So the next morning we began pouring out the can piece by piece and bit by bit, sifting and sorting and brushing and looking, and hoping to uncover the precious.
Near the bottom of the can, when I reached about the final tenth of its contents, I heard the clang of metal on concrete. What was lost had been found.
That was a sweet sound, a very sweet sound.
God’s a seeker, too. When God finds something, there’s rejoicing. But what’s interested is that we, human beings, are also described as seekers in the Bible, and God is described as one that, if sought, can be found.
I tend to think that if we come to know God, that’s an act of grace. Our seeking does not merit our salvation; rather, our desire to seek suggests to us that we are sought. Theologians have tried to sort out this puzzle for centuries, the mystery of grace and the bondage of the will. I haven’t yet worked out all the contours. Maybe I’ll write about it as I try to.
But I do know this: when lost things are found there is rejoicing. If I rejoiced upon finding my ring, how much more does God rejoice when reclaiming one of his lost children?
I finished reading E. Randolph Richards and Richard James's Misreading Scripture With Individualist Eyes: Patronage, Honor, and Shame in the Biblical World. This is a good study. Patronage, honor, and shame are concepts that were understood in particular ways in ancient Near Eastern cultures, and each have bearing on how we read and understand the Bible today.
I really like what I’m reading thus far from Tod Bolsinger, whose latest work, Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change does an excellent job of drawing together biblical insight, history, personal testimony, spiritual formation, spiritual direction, and information about the study of leadership to help leaders of all kinds overcome challenges, grow, and serve effectively. I’m over halfway through the book, and plan to interview Dr. Bolsinger via email.
Lastly, I’m about to begin reading Thomas Sowell’s The Quest for Cosmic Justice.
Sights and Sounds
The December playlist is up. I like the sound of Colter Wall.
As for movies, I watched a few. Assassin’s Creed was bad, I continue to think Mad Max: Fury Road is visually stunning (I saw it in theaters, but watched it again this week at home), and I really enjoyed my viewing of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder.
This is my first week publishing on Substack. The Friday newsletter continues to be free, and I plan to make it so forever. I guess I started writing because I felt like I had something to say. I’ll keep on trying to say it.
I wrote a post about why theology still matters. This image suggesting books illuminate us intrigued me, and I posted an interview with Thomas Breimaier, author of a book on Charles Spurgeon’s preaching.
Before I go, standard copy.
If you are receiving this newsletter in your email inbox, great! If you are a reader who comes my way via social media but you'd like to subscribe, subscribe here. Hit play on the tape with the usual appeal for social media followers, then: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
Publishers do consider social media numbers when extending offers. Likes, follows, etc. can help a person make their way. Lastly, subscribe to the blog by visiting and submitting your email to the "Updates to Your Inbox" form in the sidebar. We're at 1,402 across platforms. Help me get to 1,500+.
That's the business.
Be well this week. Bless others.
P. S. - I hiked the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and enjoyed it. Above is a shot from the Warbler Vista trail. Below is another from the Doeskin Ranch trail. The best time to go is March, I think, when you can catch sight of golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos. I walked these trails while on retreat.