Megan scrolled down the list of contacts in her cell phone and paused at Carla’s name. Doubts flitted through her mind as her finger hovered over the call button. Should I?
“I’m only here in Denver for two more days,” she reminded herself. “I came home for Christmas to be with family. I probably don’t have time to see Carla. I should just spend the time with Mom and Dad.”
She leaned back against the park bench and watched her four-year-old daughter, Eliza, climbing the jungle gym. She sighed. Here it was, the dead of winter, and Eliza had tossed back her jacket’s hood. “Eliza!” she called. “Put your hood up, Honey!” Did I ever beg to go to the park in 35 degree weather when I was a little girl? Megan wondered. I suppose if Carla were going with me, I would have gone just about anywhere – rain, shine, snow, or sleet.
Megan closed her eyes against the chilly December breeze. Her thoughts wandered back to her growing-up years. In nearly every memory, her best friend, Carla, was by her side. From kindergarten on up, they’d done everything together – dolls, braces, band concerts, hiking, shopping, skiing, double-dating. They had even enrolled in the same college and been suite-mates in the dorm. Then one day, everything changed for Megan. Another college friend invited her to a church outreach activity, and there she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Since Carla wanted nothing to do with Megan’s newfound faith, they inevitably drifted apart. After college, Carla remained in Denver, pursuing a graduate degree, and Megan married a Christian businessman and moved to Houston. Christmas cards and a few brief phone calls had been their only attempts to stay in touch.
Megan opened her eyes and looked down again at Carla’s name on the phone’s tiny screen. “What should I do, Lord?” she whispered. “It’s been such a long time. Carla’s never even seen Eliza. For all I know, she may not be at this number anymore. Maybe she’s gotten married or moved away since we last talked.” Megan tucked her scarf more snugly around her neck and turned off the phone. “And besides, Lord,” she added, “She’s never really been interested when I’ve tried to share the Gospel with her. Would things be any different now?”
Megan lifted her eyes to the playground again. Immediately, her insides went cold, and her heart started pounding. Eliza was gone. “Eliza!” Megan jumped up. “Honey, where are you?”
Tears sprang to her eyes, blurring her vision as she stumbled toward the jungle gym. Oh please, Lord. Please let me find her.
“Eliza!” She heard the note of panic in her voice as she called again.
Newspaper headlines and snippets from evening news broadcasts flashed through Megan’s mind. Kidnapers, child molesters, drug dealers…Please, Lord, keep her safe! I closed my eyes for only a few minutes. How much time does a kidnapper need to whisk a child away in broad daylight? Oh, why didn’t I keep my eyes open? “Eliza! Eliza! This is no time to hide, Mommy needs to find you.”
She heard a muffled sound, and she stopped to listen. Her eyes roved around the playground. It was then that she noticed the covered slide. It would be just like Eliza to climb into that large yellow tube from the bottom and creep up just far enough to be hidden from view. “Eliza! Are you in the slide?”
A childish giggle answered. Relief flooded Megan’s heart like a warm wave. Eliza came sliding out of the tube-like enclosure, grinning. “I was hiding from you, Mommy.”
Megan wrapped Eliza up in a bear hug. “You’re cold, Honey. Let’s go back to Grandma’s.”
“Mommy, are you crying?” Eliza stared curiously into her mother’s face. “Did you get a boo-boo?”
Megan wiped her eyes and laughed shakily. “Just in my heart, Honey. I though for a minute you were lost.”
As they walked to the car, a Scripture verse surfaced in Megan’s mind. The Son of man is come to save that which was lost. She mused on the words as she buckled Eliza into her car seat. To save the lost, she thought. That was Christ’s whole mission in coming to this earth as a baby. I can get pretty worked up when I think about my own daughter being physically lost. But where are my tears, my prayers, my sense of urgency for Christ’s mission – the spiritually lost?
“Mommy, are we going home now?”
In the driver’s seat, Megan buckled her own seat belt. Then she turned on her cell phone again. “In a minute, Honey. First Mommy needs to make a phone call. There’s another lost person – an old friend of mine – that needs to be found.”
Written by Eileen Berry. This article was published in the Winter 2007 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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