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08 March 2013

The things we lose

The things we lose

It was never going to headline the 10 o'clock news, but I love this story. A Swedish woman lost her wedding ring when she took it off to do some baking with her daughters. She had designed the ring herself and was devastated when it was lost. But the ring was found 16 years later when she was digging up some vegetables in her garden. One particular carrot had grown right through the middle of the ring which had been in the soil all this time. When the carrot was pulled up, the ring was found. Can you imagine her amazement and delight? It was only yards away yet so easily could have been lost forever but for a humble carrot and providence.

You'll note by now that I'm easily amused but there's something profound in this simple story of a lost object being found – something we connect with.

Jesus talked a lot about losing things and finding them again. It's worth losing more than a few minutes this weekend to read and ruminate on a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son (Luke 15).

We all lose things.

And not just our car keys, mobile phones, wallet or wedding rings. We lose our grip on reality sometimes, forgetting that there's more to life than the material things in front of us. We lose the run of ourselves and think we're more important than we ought. We even lose our love of Jesus, of his way above our own.

I lose perspective, I lose my patience. And living in Northern Ireland at times I've almost lost hope that things here could be different. But perhaps what scares me most is that rather than frantically looking for lost things like the shepherd who lost his sheep or the woman who lost her coin, sometimes I don't even realise that I've lost them at all. I'm more like the prodigal son – I lose myself.

Jesus also talked about losing ourselves: "Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

The idea of 'losing our lives' sounds incredibly negative, we even use this very term as a euphemism for death. But again Jesus takes something familiar and turns it into something otherworldly. The twist is that if we lose ourselves we actually find ourselves in Him. From loss and death then comes an unlikely narrative of life and the joy of being found. Although we can get our minds around this to some degree herein remains a mystery of kingdom-living. How we live eternally in the momentary. How we simultaneously lose ourselves for Jesus's sake and yet find ourselves becoming more of who we are.

Quite a bit to ponder on a Friday evening. Two final thoughts though: look after your wedding ring and check you carrots carefully.

David Smyth, public policy officer, Northern Ireland