“The diamond on my ring! It’s gone!”
My wife uttered those words in dismay on the final day of our family vacation several years ago. The prongs of her wedding ring had snagged on her clothes, and when she looked down, the jewel was no longer in its place. Making the problem particularly complicated, we were staying with my aunt and uncle in Wichita, 500 miles away from home. We were literally backing out of their driveway when she discovered the loss.
We quickly ran back into their house and looked in every place my wife had been in the past 12 hours. No luck. We drove home, assuming that the stone was probably gone forever. It was so small that the odds of finding it seemed miniscule.
For the next 24 hours, I combed through our car and slowly unpacked our luggage, hoping that I might catch a glimpse of the diamond. The evening after we came home, I was walking by our empty suitcase and glanced down. There, caught in one of the folds at the very bottom, I saw a glimmer of reflected light. The ring had fallen off while my wife was packing. In a seemingly unbelievable stroke of luck, it settled at the bottom of the bag to be discovered when I wasn’t actively looking.
After the fact, it occurred to me that we had just experienced a real-life version of Jesus’ parable in Luke 15. Jesus talked about a woman who lost one of her ten silver coins. Some scholars actually believe that the coin was a part of her wedding dowry, the ancient world’s equivalent of a wedding ring. She scoured the house for it, sweeping every corner until she located the missing coin. When she finally found it, she not only rejoiced, but she called all of her friends to rejoice with her.
Those familiar with Luke 15 will remember that the parable of the lost coin is followed immediately by the parable of the lost son, also known as The Prodigal Son. A father of two sons experienced the pain of seeing the younger one rebel and run away, taking his early inheritance with him. He squandered the money and found himself at rock bottom, feeding unclean pigs and wishing he could just eat a little bit of their slop. He decided to return to his dad and beg for mercy, hoping to be hired as a servant.
Yet the father cared about the son immensely more than the woman cared for her coin (or her diamond ring). The son found his father waiting, looking down the road, and ready to embrace his lost child. The dignified father gathered his robe and ran to welcome his son home. He gave him a new robe and a ring for his finger (a symbol of family authority) and cooked him a feast.
The older son was angry. “Unfair!” he cried. “I’ve been serving you faithfully for many years. Why does this no-good rebel get a feast?” He refused to come inside because he missed the point. The Father didn’t love the son because he was especially good. He loved him because he was his son. Both sons had the opportunity to experience the Father’s love and grace, but only one of them realized how much he needed it. The older son didn’t believe in grace. He thought he’d earned everything he had and more, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The Father stood ready at any moment to give him whatever he needed, but he was too proud to ask.
Of course, people are worth more than coins. More than sheep. More than rings. More than diamonds. Even people who are at rock bottom. Even people who sin. Even people who rebel. And that’s the point of the story. If you look eagerly for a lost diamond, know that God looks even more eagerly for lost people.
Every person He made is enormously precious. He loves every single one with a depth that goes beyond that of any human father. God waits and looks and calls people to trust in Him, to believe that no sin is beyond the saving power of Jesus. That’s the message at the heart of Luke 15 — God rejoices more for the sinner who repents than for the “good” boys and girls who think they don’t need it.
When my wife’s diamond was missing, I kept reminding myself that it was really just a thing. The truly precious treasures in my life were sitting in the car — three healthy kids and a godly wife. God feels the same way about you. You’re worth more to Him than any coin, diamond, or trinket. He gave the life of His Son for your life.
Do you see Him waiting, looking, calling? He loves you. He waits for you. And He calls you to join the feast.