Two things have come into my life and disappeared that I wish I could find again. The first was a song. It was haunting. It was beautiful. And now, it is lost.
When I heard it, I was living in Budapest, Hungary. I had finished a hard day of work and returned to the university where I was staying. My temporary home was your typical old-school dorm room: concrete block walls painted white, a floor of green hospital tiles, twin beds with about five feet between them, a closet big enough to hang a few clothes in and a little room with a shower. It wasn’t much, but I’d called it home for eight weeks.
I went to bed and assumed my usual nighttime position, clasping my hands together under my head on top of the pillow. While I lay in the darkness waiting for the heat to dissipate, I listened to the radio. Most of the music was in Hungarian with an English title thrown in every once in a while.
When I serve in other countries, I make it a habit to try to listen to local radio stations. This helps me become more familiar with the sounds of the language. I can pick out words I already know and learn some new ones, too.
As I lay there with my eyes closed, a song began to play that I’d never heard before. Since it was in Hungarian, I couldn’t understand the words, but the music was mystifying, and the voice so unusual it could have belonged to an angel. The notes wafted through the air like the smell of grandma’s home-baked bread, giving not my nose, but my ears, a delightful treat. The melody was beautiful, enticing and hypnotic. But all too soon, it was over.
The next day, I tried to hum a few bars of the song to my Hungarian friends, but no one recognized it. Night after night, I listened to the radio in case the station played the enchanting song again, but they didn’t. To this day, I would love to find out the name of the song and its singer.
Once upon a time, I also lost my favorite coat. It was a hunter green London Fog waist-length winter coat. For some reason, clothes and I don’t go together. If the neck size is right, the sleeves are too long. If the waist fits, the inseams are too short. I can make an expensive sweater look like a cheap knockoff just by putting it on. But this coat fit me perfectly. I have never had so many people compliment me on an article of clothing as this one. And not only did it fit well, but whenever I wore it, I felt regal. Fitting perfectly and making you feel good are two great qualities for any piece of clothing.
One weekend, I was speaking at a church in Kansas City. As you entered the foyer, they had a row of hooks for hanging coats. I hung mine up and went to preach both morning services. As I was leaving to have lunch with the pastor, I remembered my coat and ran back to retrieve it. And there I stood, looking at rows of empty hooks.
I blinked a couple of times, thinking, “This can’t be. What has happened to my coat?” I thought maybe it fell off the hook, and someone picked it up and put it somewhere else. I asked the pastor if the church had a Lost and Found. We looked there, and nope, nada, nothing. The next Sunday, the church put an announcement in the weekly bulletin to ask if anyone had seen my coat. To this day, the coat has never turned up.
I wish I could find both of these things: the mysterious song and the incredible coat. But I know something else that was lost: me, before the Lord reached down and saved me for all eternity.
You see, people are lost, too. But God doesn’t want us to stay lost. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Christmas brings the good news that you don’t have to remain lost. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died on the cross in your place and made a way for you to be found. And “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV). Now that’s something you can stick in your stocking and never lose.
I would like to wish my extended Baptist Messenger family a Merry Christmas. May the peace that passes all understanding be yours during this season and always.