Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finding What is Lost

I spent this past week as the lone adult in charge of 14 teenagers who were let loose on the LSU campus for an enormous 4-H event. It was a wild and crazy week, made even wilder and crazier by the fact that the LSU baseball team was playing for the National Baseball Championship ... and won! LSU was one hopping place!

I spent most of the week, racing around LSU, with my cell phone stuck to my ear, trying to keep track of everyone. LSU is a big campus, and parking spaces are hard to come by. It was HOT this past week. I felt like I was melting as I drove all over campus, fought for parking spots, and walked to and from buildings to find my 4-H'ers. Oh, and I had forgotten all of the more lovely aspects of dorm life ... elevators that don't work so you must climb up 5 flights of stairs, showers that are frigid unless someone flushes the toilet and then the water is scalding hot, a/c units that work unpredictably, halls that magnify and carry even the tiniest noise so that someone going to the bathroom at 3 am sounds like an airplane taking off right in your room. Yes ... it was an interesting week, with mornings that started at 5:30 am and days that didn't end until after midnight.

It seemed that every time I turned around, another one of my charges was calling me on the phone, needing my assistance:

"Ms. Paige ... can you come pick me up and take me to the Union?"

"Ms, Paige ... I feel sick. Can you take me somewhere to get some medicine?"

"Ms. Paige, I'm over here in Tiger Town and I don't know if I can make it back to my class on time. Can you come get me and take me there?"

"Ms. Paige, all of my friends left me here at the Union, and you said I couldn't walk on campus alone ... now I can't get back to my dorm. What should I do?"

The most memorable phone call was the one that actually made my blood turn cold in the beginning. It came from two girls who are most definitely blondes. (I can say that ... I'm a blonde, too!)

It was 4 pm on Thursday evening when my phone rang. We had reservations for dinner at a fancy restaurant at 5 pm, followed by the awards assembly and dance that evening. Everyone was supposed to meet in the lobby at 4:45 pm, dressed in church dress. I was expecting one of the girls to be calling about borrowing my hair dryer for the 25th time that week ... or maybe someone with a clothing crisis (forgotten shoes or unable to tie a tie, etc). Instead it was Samantha and Mikayla. Our conversation went like this:

Sam: Ms. Paige ... You gotta help us! Mikayla and I ... well, we are lost. We don't know how to get back to our dorms. Can you come get us?

Me: Well, Sam ... tell me where you are first of all and I'll see if I can help you out.

Sam: We don't know.

Me: If you can't tell me where you are, then I can't come get you. Surely you know the name of the street ...

Sam: No, mam' ... I don't know that. Hold on ... Mikayla, what's the name of this street?

(In the background I can hear Mikayla sobbing, "I don't know! I don't know! We are going to be stuck here forever!")

Me: Okay, look, Sam ... you girls try to calm down. Let's try this. Why don't you just describe what you see ...

Sam: A road.

Me: Can you give me more details? There are a lot of roads. I'm going to need you to be as specific as possible so I can figure out which road it is and be able to find you.

Sam: Okay, I'll try. It's a curvy road, Ms. Paige. It's near a lake. There are old houses everywhere.

Me: Okay ... how did you get there? Did you walk there? Where did you walk from?

Sam: We walked here. Andrew pointed the direction we needed to walk from the Union and we walked this way. And now we are LOST!!!!!

Me: Okay ... it's okay. You aren't going to stay lost forever. Take a deep breath and let me think for a minute. You said it was a curvy road near a lake with a lot of old houses .... Praise God because I think I may actually know where you are! I am going to come looking. Here's what I want you to do. I want you and Mikayla to find a shady spot near a tree but in a place where I can easily see you from the road. I want you to sit there and stay put. DO NOT MOVE. Do you understand me? DO NOT MOVE!

Sam: (sniffling) Yes, mam' .... We won't move.

Me: If I haven't found you in the next 15 minutes, I will call you because at that time I will have to call the police to help me locate you. But we will find you. Just stay where you are and stay calm and trust that I am coming ... and it wouldn't hurt for the two of you to do a little praying while you wait.

As I hung up, I prayed with all my heart that God would help me find those who were lost. And thankfully, I did find them right where I thought they might be... about a mile from our dorms along Greek Row. As I approached the girls and they saw my car, they jumped up, hugged each other in the biggest embrace I've ever seen and raced toward me. I pulled over and they got into my car, hugging each other and me and crying. Sam said, "Oh Ms. Paige! You've saved us! We thought we were going to die!"

So maybe the girls were freaking out just a tad. They weren't going to die, but even so I have to admit that my heart was racing and my blood felt icy to know that two teens in my care were totally lost on such a large campus.

Since that night, it has been on my mind ... and it seems like God is reminding me of a lesson from this event in my life. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to seek and to find that which was lost. God wants to allow those of us who have been found already to be a part of the rescue of the rest of the world. No ... we can't save anyone. But we are to point others to God, and to do our best to make sure that those we know and love are rescued from being lost for eternity.

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