“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
This was Daytona week for the Bensons. I’m not talking about Nascar here. It’s become a yearly tradition that we go to Daytona Beach, Florida to help serve at a youth camp/conference called Bigstuf. It’s a week of little sleep, late night Mafia games, junk food, getting reacquainted with other staff and volunteers, and hard work. It’s great fun! Students from all around the country (3200 this year) traveled in buses and minivans to the shores of the Atlantic for some fun in the sun and an encounter with Jesus. At least that’s the hope and prayer of all the staff and volunteers.
All kinds of kids come to Bigstuf. All kinds. Some are easy to love, and some have to grow on you. If I am honest, there was one or two I wanted to hold under the waves a little longer than would be acceptable. I didn’t, but I wanted to.
As volunteers, there’s lots to do at camp. Matthew and my two oldest are there to serve on the Production Team. For the rest of us, we rotate through different jobs and help out where we are needed.
One of the jobs I had this week was sitting at the Info Table. Now when I saw this on my assignment roster, I was a little bit nervous. I mean, I don’t know a lot of information. What if people came asking things I had no answers for? But Bigstuf staff thinks of most everything, and they had me on Lost and Found. THAT, I could do. I am good at both losing AND finding things.
I was amazed at the lost things in the Lost and Found box. In the box were phones, money (Lots of money. Where do they get all that money?), Bibles, sunglasses, journals, hair brushes, water bottles, and one flip flop. Just one. How does one lose just one shoe?
One kid stood out to me. He came up to the Info Table very distraught. He wanted to know if anyone had turned in his remote controlled car. He told me it had cost him $320. Now as a mother, I wondered why in the world the kid would bring something that valuable to camp.
We could all see he was very upset. He begged us to have someone announce from the stage that if the car had been found, that it be returned to him. Initially, we told him we just couldn’t to that. EVERYONE who lost something asked us to do that. We told him to keep checking back with us, and that maybe someone would find it and turn it in. He did. Again, and again. Each time he came back, he was a bit more distraught. Finally, he was crying. I was suspicious that he had brought the car without his parent’s knowledge, or against their wishes. He was so consumed with finding his lost treasure, I seriously doubted he heard anything going on in the session that night.
In the end, we decided to announce from the stage the news of the lost RC car. This kid was desperate. He was begging us to help him. He was relentlessly pursuing that car. Its value to him was immeasurable. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it was ever returned to him. I prayed that it would be. Either way, I knew the Lord would use it for his good.
The whole thing got me to thinking. The determination this child had in finding what was lost was really pretty parable-like. For this kid, that RC car was his “pearl of great price”. His “lost sheep”.
Our Heavenly Father is relentlessly pursuing His lost children. They are His pearls of great price. The Bible tells us that like the Good Sheppard who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to go find that lost one; God is desperately seeking to find those who are lost to Him. They are more important even than those of us who have been found.
It’s my prayer that the kids who attended camp this week found the God who so desperately seeks to be in relationship with Him, and accepted the gift of His love for them through Jesus. Even the provoking one or two… hey, especially them.