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Lost and Found

Filed under: — jen d @ 5:16 pm

About an hour-and-half ago, I received a call from my mother. She said that my brother had never shown up for his after-school program, and that he was therefore ‘among the missing.’ Would I mind driving over to see if the bus had dropped him at home?

She was remarkably calm. I, on the other hand, came very close to having a mental breakdown. Yes, I was slightly hysterical. I admit it. But the Lord kept me together long enough to get me into my driveway, where my brother’s bus was waiting. He was fine. I checked. Twice.

Losing my brother is on my top-3 list of things that I truly believe would crack me. I hate to admit that, because sometimes I feel like saying we can’t handle something is inviting some kind of proofing-time to come to instruct us that we can handle anything, in the Lord. And then I feel guilty for thinking that the Lord works that way. I don’t mind being shown that I can handle anything in Christ, I suppose (easy enough to say, though I don’t wish for such proof); yet, the thing I find troubling is that someone like my brother might suffer in order to teach me a lesson.

It’s not just that he’s my baby brother. It’s that he’s rather defenseless. Trusting. Hopelessly vulnerable. His suffering would be bad enough if he were capable of communicating injury or abuse, or if he were strong and quick enough to fight back, but he’s not. The suffering of the helpless, the idea of one who can’t fully comprehend suffereing or fear experiencing it, is especially tormenting. It’s the stuff of one’s worst nightmares, that keeps you up in a cold sweat, barely able to breath. It’s hard to write about; dwelling on the possabilities is a threat to sanity, so you don’t allow it for too long (and the Lord often intervenes with inexplicable peace when necessary).

But even the idea of losing John temporarily might be something I could imagine handling (though maybe not well), if I had some assurance of seeing him again in eternity, where there is no more possibility of pain or separation. But the same things that keep him from being able to express injury and abuse now keep him, in many ways, from comprehending concepts like atonement and eternity and Christ. Long ago I realized that the God who created John to be as he is, loves John more than I ever could, and this must be an awful lot. He has created a way for John to understand, and is the One who must do the work in his precious little heart in order to save him, no matter what his level of understanding or intellect. He’s also a merciful God, however that works out in the cases of those who don’t have time on this earth or the intellect to understand the Gospel as we understand it.

But it doesn’t excuse me, or any of us, from trying to reach people like my brother. We’d all like to believe that such people with such seeming innocence and intellectual disadvantage can’t possibly be punished for sin nature, that God just simply wouldn’t do that. As I mentioned above, I’m not sure how His mercy works out in such cases; none of us can ever be sure of every case, though we can draw logical conclusions about a few and trust that God’s justice is always Good and full of Mercy. As far as my brother goes, he’s displayed his willful sin nature on many occasions, despite his otherwise sweet disposition; he’s also demonstrated an understanding of how his stubborness or bad moods or whatnot affects his relationships with us, and has, unprompted, sought sincere forgiveness from us in his way when he’s needed to. He understands this much.

These topics are taxing. I’ll end this one, for now, with a simple request: pray for my brother, and those like him. The “Help of the helpless” cares for their souls more than we ever could, but reaching them is, at least in part, put in our charge. Do not hide behind the false security that “God will take care of those people in a different way,” when He Himself has never given such assurance outside of His already-revealed Way of salvation.

Aside from all of this, I can truly say that I’m glad to know my brother is safe today. Sometimes it takes small crisis to remind us of how much we take for granted.

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