Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lost And Found

Have you ever lost something that you considered valuable?... And then, when you've found it, it becomes even more precious?... Something you thought was gone forever...and then, suddenly it's back in your possession?

My mother-in-law and father-in-law both died a few years ago. They left behind a house full of memories. Decades of raising a family, friendships, struggles, love and laughter.
My wife and I had to put a lot of their stuff in storage, especially since she wasn't ready to deal with all the memories...yet.
So, as we're unpacking stuff the other day, we run across a couple of old paintings. Paintings that had been hanging on the wall of her folks house ever since she could remember. Old watercolor paintings. No particularly "beautiful" (in my limited artistic estimation), but nice. We considered taking them to the thrift store along with a few other things that didn't hold any particular sentimental value.
As I was looking at them I noticed that they were "original".... not your common art-store knock-off....and that the artwork was signed by the artist,... someone I didn't recognize.
So... I decided to do an Internet search, just to see who this artist was. Was he still living?...and, if so,...where?
It took me a while on the Internet to track him down.....but, eventually I did. He was still doing art and lived in a city just a few hundred miles from where we lived. He was now in his late 80's....and there was a telephone number. So I called.

"Hi, is this Mr. __________, who is an artist/painter?...
(I hear the voice of an elderly gentleman)...
"Yes, this is he.... who am I speaking to?"....

I told him who I was and that I thought I might have a couple of his paintings. Did he remember them?..... He didn't.
But, his wife suddenly got on the phone. She said, "Who is this calling?".... So, I explained to her the situation. I told her that I thought I had a couple of her husband's watercolors paintings, but wasn't sure. She said she didn't think that was possible....
I told her I would take a few pictures and email them to their email address. I did...

The next day I received an email response:.... "Yes, these are my husband's paintings! It's been years since he painted in watercolor!..... He painted stuff like this before we were married....60 years ago......
60 years.
And it just happened to be their 60th Wedding anniversary on THAT DAY!.... Amazing!
I told her I would love to mail her the paintings and she was ecstatic about it....even more than her husband.
Anyway, it's an interesting chain of events that lead to my mother-in-law having these paintings in her possession for the past 60 years. She had lived in the same city as the artist, had worked in a grocery store just down the street from his parents. To this day, my wife and I will never know, this side of heaven, the details of how she came to own them....for the artist says he never remembers selling any paintings "back then"......
Perhaps they were a wedding present when they were married in 1945?...

Things that were thought "lost".... are suddenly... "found".....

I know these paintings will mean more to him and his wife than anything he's done over the last few decades. That's just the way life is.. We lose things. Sometimes we find them and are overjoyed...sometimes they are lost forever and we mourn their loss. In this case, interestingly, they didn't even know they had "lost" something....something of sentimental value.
Well... now they do.
It's a story with a happy ending. Their own daughter is an artist also....and she will inherit something that her dad painted, even before she was born.....

Jesus said that "people" are like that. That HE came to seek and save the "lost"... (That would be us).....
Most people don't even realize that they're lost. That God has lost something of value that HE would love to have back......us. And, through Christ, He has provided the opportunity to get us back...to "redeem" us. That makes all of us valuable....whether we acknowledge it or not.....

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