Monday, February 25, 2008

Feeling Lost? Here's a Message In A Bottle

You usually get a 2nd Cup of silly here, but I do enjoy writing with a little more depth once in a while. Regarding my columns, I try to speak to people who aren't yet committed to following Christ and then with the next column, to those who are committed. However, all of my columns appear on the religion page, and to be honest, I don't think many people go there on purpose. Unless they're my parents. And sometimes not even them! ["Mom, did you know my column is in today's paper? No? Well, it is."] Also, I did not title this piece; the editors did.

Feeling Lost? Here's a Message in a Bottle

For the first time since the General Hospital Luke and Laura phenomenon of my senior year in high school, I'm hooked on a television series.

Lost is ostensibly about the survivors of an airplane crash on an uncharted Pacific island, but the reason the show is wildly popular is that every week, the double meaning of the title becomes more and more enthralling.

Each Lost character has his own backstory that brought him aboard Oceanic flight 815, allowing writers to address themes such as the existence of God, fate vs. destiny, good vs. evil, dualism within characters, relationship dysfunction -- particularly between fathers and sons, faith vs. science and redemption.

Plus it's just so ingeniously written that it's completely captivating.

So, I've been thinking about being lost a lot lately, specifically, that while a person can be physically disoriented, he can also be confused in his spirit, his heart or identity.

Maybe you can relate to these "lost" moments from my life:

When I was a child, I skipped up to my father in a department store and took his hand, only to look up and see that I had grabbed a stranger's hand instead. I was so panicked I couldn't speak and ran away. I wasn't running toward anything because I wasn't thinking at all; I could only run away.

I'll never forget the first time I was driving when suddenly I whispered, "Where am I?"

Once I lost my toddler daughter only to find her curled up behind a toilet in our half bath, smiling mischievously at me.

I remember when my husband took my little dog for a short car trip without my knowledge. When I couldn't find her, I was heart-sick, believing her to be lost.

I also remember how lost I felt when my college sweetheart broke up with me as I looked down the road at the rest of my life without him.

And then there was the moment as a young adult that I realized that I was living in a state of lostness, desiring a meaningful life and unconditional love but feeling depressed instead. Again, I reached out for my Father's hand. This time, I recognized the sure grip of a faithful God. No more confusion or running -- His hand was the right thing to reach for.

Eugene Peterson, who wrote The Message, said that we're all stuck on a personal "I-land," where we are so lost that we don't know who we are, who God is or why we're here. In this sense, we are born lost. We're merely existing, just surviving. The message in a bottle: "I have made a way to rescue you from your I-land!" floats by everyone on his I-land, but only a few realize the need to be rescued or believe that it's possible.

If you're confused, afraid, lonely, hopeless, or empty, open the message in the bottle with your name on it and know that help is on the way. Your rescuer is closer than your next heartbeat if you'll just reach out. For the rest of your life, you'll feel your Father's presence, and nothing will be able tear you away from His firm grip -- you'll never be lost again.

Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at
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