January 5, 2015

The Hobbit, the iPhone, and the Gospel

One of the pleasures of our family holiday time was working our way through all three cinematic volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien's (and now also Peter Jackson's) The Hobbit – the third and final one in the theater. But I finished the series feeling a little out of sorts. ‘There’s no adventure anymore,’ I said to Tobey. Most of our lives are just pretty routine, aren’t they? No quests or battles, no great stories to tell. Just day-by-day stuff. But ‘I need some adventure’ I said to my wife after the third movie was complete.

Well, little did I know that adventure was waiting for me the very next morning! I was on my way home from the gas station on New Year’s Eve morning when I realized that my phone was not in my pocket. Perhaps I hadn’t taken it, I thought. But I got home as quickly as I could just to make sure. It was nowhere to be found. So I sped back over to the gas station to see if it had turned up there. ‘I’m sorry … but I haven’t seen a phone’ the girl said. So back home I went … to pull up the phone’s location on Apple’s handy-dandy Find My iPhone feature. You punch in your password and voila, up comes a map, complete with street names, satellite imagery … and a little green dot hovering right where your phone happens to be!

And here is where the adventure really begins. The little green dot was not hovering over our house, nor over the gas station property which had been my only stop that morning. It was several blocks away from the station, outside a fast food restaurant … and resting still. Stolen! So I snatched up Tobey’s phone (so I would have email capability while on the go), stationed her in front of the Find My iPhone page on the laptop, and gave her instructions to send me emails updating me on any movements. And off down the road I went again … this time into the restaurant parking lot where I began to look in garbage cans and along the street outside. Nothing. But then an email from Tobey … the phone was moving! ‘Heading down this direction on such-and-such a street, toward so-and-so avenue. Now turning left … left on X street … four houses down from the corner of X street and Y … now five.’ I tracked down the address (now several blocks away from the restaurant), got out of the car, and knocked on the door in question. No answer. Then more emails. ‘The phone is moving again … this time apparently on foot … across the street and a few houses down. Now it looks like the assailant is in the backyards, moving back and forth between X and Z streets.’ I made way toward the new location, and began stopping pedestrians to ask if they’d seen a lost phone (really, to see if any of them began acting nervously when I asked them about it!). No one claimed to have seen anything. Eventually I began making my way through three backyards that were unfenced and bordering a little cut-through between streets. I dialed my number, and heard the phone ringing! And there it was, resting on a little tuft of grass at the base of a tree trunk in someone’s backyard. I snatched it up, very happy, and headed home … thanking the Lord for His mercy in restoring my phone.

I had asked for adventure, and now I had gotten it! A little miniature private investigation (or a quest, as I like to think of it!) … with me playing the part of Tolkien and Jackson’s heroic characters, and taking back what had been stolen!

I was satisfied.

But I got to thinking about what spiritual lesson there might be in this quest; in my ardor to regain my phone. And first I thought about how, if I can pursue something so trivial as a phone so avidly (even to the place where it could have gotten dangerous … for a thief may also be a ruffian!); if I was willing to pursue a cellular telephone with such gusto, what about perishing souls? And what about God Himself? And those are good lessons!

But then it occurred to me that the better parallel might be the connection between my little quest, and the parables in Luke 15 – the shepherd looking here and there for his lost sheep, and rejoicing when it is found; and the woman turning the living room inside out until she finds her lost coin. And the lesson behind those stories of Jesus? That this is what God is like – dogged in His quest “to seek and to save that which was lost.” And that is the lesson of my New Year’s Eve adventure. My little quest gave me just a tad more insight into the parables in Luke 15, and thus into the passion of our heavenly Father to track down lost souls.

And mine was, I say, a little quest. For I only had to drive a few miles to track down the missing phone. But Christ left heaven itself, and came all the way down to this creaking old planet of ours, in order that He might track down lost sinners and bring them home. I spent maybe an hour altogether, looking for that phone … but Christ spent 33 years living without sin that He might save me, and the Father has been at work in this grand plan since Genesis chapter 3! And, of course, though the assailant may have been a ruffian (and I contemplated very briefly that getting the phone back might lead to a scuffle), Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost” knowing that it would cost Him His very life’s blood! And He did it! 

His was the great quest … the one that makes all others, in life and in fantasy, pale in comparison. May God give us grace to love Him for it!


kathy strevel said...

Loved reading of your 'adventure'!! And I'm afraid I've had similar close calls with my phone, though never actually had to be the 'hero' yet. But more, I loved your comparisons and the obvious conclusion: His was the GREAT quest...that makes all others pale. May we live in this wonder of reality!

Kurt Strassner said...

Thanks, as always, Ms. Kathy. Hope you all are well! We think of you all often, and hope to get down to MS again some day! It's been a while!