Friday, May 1, 2009

Parable of the Lost Coin... (Apr 19 09)

Dear Family and Friends,

Life is amazing. This next week I graduate from BYU; if you'd like to attend, you're definitely welcome. Commencement, which will include talks by President Uchtdorf and Elder Nelson, is in the BYU Marriott Center at 4:00 on Thursday. Convocation, where my name is read and I walk on a stage, is at 8:00 am Friday in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom. After Convocation, there is a physics department demonstration in C-215 of the Eyring Science Center, and then there is an open house for graduates, families, and friends (with food) in the same building from 11:30 to 1:30.

My plans for the summer are still somewhat up in the air, but I think I am staying in Provo. I plan on writing a few books, maybe learning a language (Chinese?), taking voice lessons, spending a lot of time socializing, and either finding a full-time job or doing an unpaid internship (since many places aren't hiring right now). I'm not sure what is happening after the summer is over.

This last week started out a bit rough, but I've been able to learn a lot from the Lord. I saw trees broken from the weight of a crazy snowstorm and thought, “That's a parable of the importance of cutting away the unnecessary parts of our lives – to make stronger branches that can hold their own weight.” Two days later it was bright, sunny, and gorgeous... and I thought, “That's the message that good weather (and blessings from the Lord) is only ever a few days away.” But the message that has impacted me the most was incredibly simple, and from a place I hadn't thought I would ever really appreciate – the parable of the lost coin.

Luke 15:8-9

What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost.”

For the last 23 years I haven't given much thought to the parable of the lost piece of silver. The parable itself is only two verses long and is sandwiched between the symbolic giants of the lost sheep and the prodigal son – both of which I felt like I appreciated. On the other hand, I've never really understood why the woman in the parable would spend all night sweeping the floor just to find a lost piece of silver. I've never really felt all that attached to money, and so I thought that perhaps the parable was meant for people who felt a deeper connection with silver or material wealth.

As I mentioned in my last letter, I lost my wallet 10 days ago. When I first lost it, I felt awful. It was partly due to the fact that I had lost my credit cards, driver's license, and temple recommend, but mostly due to my feelings of inadequacy since I had lost it. What had I done to lose it? Why was I so unobservant that I would lose it? Why had I let it happen? Had someone somehow taken it without my knowing? It felt like it was my fault, and I had no idea where to find it.

Like the woman in the parable, I spent hours searching for my wallet... but I had a larger area than just a dirt floor. I scoured my entire apartment, emptied my car and my backpack a dozen times, and called everywhere I had set foot that day until they told me they would call if they found it. I prayed for guidance and asked everyone I knew to help in the search... but nothing happened. I felt like it would turn up eventually... I was supposed to be patient in the meantime.

If losing my wallet was a test to see how I would cope with life, I probably failed miserably. Thankfully, the Lord allows us as many retakes as are necessary. After a week of searching I finally realized the lesson I was supposed to learn. I truly believed that the Lord would help me, no matter what happened. If I didn't find it, that was ok. If I was willing to turn to the Lord, He would help me in all of my problems.

I found my wallet on Friday... and the feeling that I experienced was amazing. Only minutes before, I had felt awful, and now I felt like jumping for joy and immediately called my family members to tell them the good news. I thought about all the people I could tell about my experience finding my wallet... and it was at that moment that the parable of the lost piece of silver came into my mind. I suddenly understood why the woman would call her friends and neighbors just to tell them about a piece of silver... and I came to better understand verse 10 of chapter 15: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” I had felt a very small amount of pain in losing my wallet and an absurd amount of joy at finding it... and I realized, in part, how much pain the Lord and His angels must feel when they see us lose our way... and how much joy they feel to see us return to the light.

I know that God loves us. In the parable of the lost coin, we are the lost coins, and He is the one to whom they are lost. But, unlike the story, He knows exactly who we are and is not searching for us... but for ways to bring us back to Him. In our constant search to return back to God, knowing that He is actively searching for us and unwilling to give up can give us hope. No matter what we have done in the past, He is still looking for the best way to make the future bright. The Lord loves you. While you may be temporarily lost, you are never lost from His sight, and He rejoices when you turn to Him. And, yes, losing my wallet was a blessing. I've learned to rely on the Lord and His judgment, no matter what happens (for now, at least).

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