By: Zac Cannon
A very common danger for people with special needs is wandering or elopement. This can be a very frightening reality for parents and caregivers of a person, young or old, who sometimes strays from the safety of their family, teachers, and other aids. This fear is often compounded by the inability of many of these wonderful people to effectively and efficiently communicate; simply reciting one’s name can be a challenge, let alone reciting an address.
Last week, I was driving to Winston-Salem for a conference. Maybe three hours from home, my phone rang, abruptly cutting off the podcast I was listening to. A little miffed, I looked at the caller ID, answered, and asked my wife what she needed. She was out of breath and her voice had a rhythm and pitch to it that was foreign. She was obviously upset.
“I was lost and then I was found.”
Those are verbatim the words my son told me when I talked to him a few minutes later. He is on the autism spectrum. While not frequent, he will sometimes take advantage of an open door and a turned head. We keep a close eye on him and lock our doors, but somehow that afternoon he had managed to slip by and wander the neighborhood for a few short minutes, looking for ceiling fans.
To my wife, it felt more like days.
Talking to them on the phone, everyone was home and safe. Blood pressures were returning to normal. Hugs and kisses generously applied.
As traumatic as that afternoon was, it made me think about God’s love and abundant, amazing grace. As the hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…” We are all prone to elope. We are all prone to leave the safety and care of God.
We are all, in many ways, lost and found.
“I wasn’t even mad,” my wife told me. “I wasn’t angry at him, at all. I was just so happy he was OK. I am just happy he is home.”
In Luke’s gospel, this is the picture that Jesus paints repeatedly of the tender care and affection of our Father who only wants us to cease our wandering and come on home. The Father waits, every day, His eyes turned to the highways and byways, the hills and the fields, ready to run and embrace His children. So, why should we tarry?
“I’m not mad. I’m just so happy you are home.”