This past Sunday I had an experience that makes any parent tremble. Jen, the girls and I were in the Fireside Room at Parkside's Salem Road Campus preparing to leave (winter means that just getting jackets on can take a short forever). I left to go get my Bible and notes from the stage and made a few passing comments to people as I made my way back to the lobby. I met Jen there asking me if one of our 2 1/2 year old twin daughters was with me. Upon saying no, Jen left our other two daughters with me as she took a quick glance at the elevator to see if she'd gone there (I'm not sure why our daughters love the elevator...they just do.) She returned to say that she wasn't at the elevator either. At that point I leave our other daughters with friends and begin to help her search. I'm running down hallways and looking in rooms with a vigor that it's hard to describe unless you've lost a child before. Very soon, Bart Steever (our Discipleship Minister) came around the corner with our daughter not far behind (she wouldn't let him pick her up or hold her hand). The entire episode probably lasted all of two minutes, but they felt like two years.
As I said, it is very difficult to describe the sense of worry--absolute panic--that swept through my body like a tidal wave. I was immediately concerned that she was wandering out into the busy parking lot or, worse, had been abducted. It's funny how your brain waves come in torrents in times like this. Stomach in knots. Whole body tense. It's wretched.
I was SO glad to see my daughter again. SO relieved. That feeling of relief is probably equally difficult to describe. I held her pretty tightly for longer than she liked.
Later Sunday, once the panic had subsided, I started to think about the situation from a different perspective. And I wished that my sense of panic and pain for God's children who have wandered far away from a sustaining relationship with Him was just as deep and real. I wish I ran down hallways to reach those who were lost. I wish my stomach was just as uneasy every day with the reality that an entire world around me needs to find their Father in the same way that my daughter needed me. Nah...that's not even true. They need their Father much worse.