By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
Very often newspapers are filled with accounts of children in the United States who have been lost or abducted.
It is still a mystery as to the whereabouts of a boy who was camping with his family in the Utah mountains one summer. He was with his dad fishing and started to walk back to camp and never made it back.
Then there was the Missouri family who lost a son and he was rescued a few years later only to be reunited with his family.
When I hear these stories, I remember the time we lost Buffy but our experience had an excellent outcome.
We were sponsors for our church youth group on a trip to Six Flags and we took our own children along. Seeing after 80 youth was a challenge as we took advantage of all the rides and sights.
At the end of the day, plans were to meet part of the group at a designated place near the entrance of the theme park.
On this particular summer day, the crowds at Six Flags grew greater as five o’clock came and reduced admission rates brought swarms of people through the gates. We met our group and counted the teenagers in our charge.
We took inventory and realized Buffy was missing.
Of course we were frightened. The crowds grew thicker and it was difficult to see through the congestion and Buffy was nowhere in sight.
I thought of all the terrible things that happen to children and I felt hopeless and numb, desperate and terrified.
The group decided to individually spread out and look for Buffy. We agreed to meet to reassemble in 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes passed and still no Buffy. Trying to decide on our next move, we headed back to the parking lot where the church buses were parked. I hoped that by chance Buffy was with some of those in our group who had gone on ahead.
We walked briskly toward the parking lot area. Then as our buses came into view, we saw her standing by the bus with a group of church girls. Buffy greeted us happily. She sensed nothing wrong, and the teenage girls believed they had done us a favor by taking her with them. Buffy said that she had simply gone ahead with her “friends.”
I think of that incident and remember God understands all our human predicaments as parents and underscores them through teachings in the Bible. Even Mary and Joseph lost Jesus on the way home from Jerusalem.
In no way did our experience compare with the story of Jesus as a boy; yet I think the emotions of finding a lost child are shared by all mothers .
After three days of searching, Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple back in Jerusalem, discussing spiritual issues with the teachers. But Mary’s reaction was typical of a mother. “Son, why have you treated us this way? Don’t you know that we have been anxiously searching for you?”
The Bible gives an honest portrayal of all its characters and does not try to hide the traumas and trials of those characters. Because of that, we as readers can relate.
The Bible speaks to everyone — the scholar, the uneducated, the preacher adept at textual criticism, the elderly lady in the rest home, the farmer, the young executive, the teenager struggling with identity . . . even the mother of a lost child.
Paul wrote: “These things were written in the Scriptures… to teach us patience and to encourage us and to give us hope…” (Romans 15:4).
That should be good news for to us all.