One Wednesday night a few months back we were leaving church when my middle daughter, Sydney, noticed that a hubcap was missing from one of my tires. And as much as I’d like to think of myself as a deep thinker, not bothered by exteriors, I learned that night that I actually can be very shallow! I could not bear the thought of driving a car missing a hubcap! I obsessed about it all that night and into the next day? Did someone *take* it? (Surely not in a church parking lot???) Did it just fall off?? Wasn’t it just there this morning? By the next afternoon I had a replacement, but I still could not stop thinking about *my* hubcap.
Over the next few weeks I watched the roadside and intersections along our standard route to church. I had my girls look with me. I memorized the pattern of the hubcap so I could spot it easily, and even thought about the black scuff mark it bore after an ill-fated parking attempt. Surely I would recognize it!
Finally, on one of these trips I saw a hubcap, lying against the median just off a busy intersection. It was lying face down but seemed, from the bottom, to have the same pattern as my lost hubcap. The next time we drove to church I slowed down and had the girls look and, sure enough, as far as we could tell, it was the same pattern! We made plans to stop in one of the parking lots just off that intersection the next time we were on our way to or from church.
It was another week before we were driving that same route to church again, and plotting how we would retrieve the hubcap from a busy intersection on a main highway. I pulled slowly into the turn lane planning to pull off into a nearby parking lot, and then my husband, Wayne, noticed it leaning against a pole across the intersection and more easily assessable. We pulled into a gas station and when Wayne brought it back to the car and showed it to me. There it was. There was my once lost, but now found, scuffed-up hubcap.
Jesus told a story of in Luke chapter 15 about a woman who lost a coin. He said of this woman, “Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
When Wayne turned the hubcap to where I could see the exterior of it, I screamed in shock! The girls started laughing, saying, “Mom! That’s your hubcap! You found your hubcap!!” We got home and it was given a place of prominence where we could look at it every day. Uncle James came to visit us when he was in town on business, and he was ushered in and shown the hubcap after being told the wonderful story. For the next week whenever the girls and I met up with friends, I was encouraged to tell The Story of the Lost Hubcap. And here’s the thing, it’s just a plastic hubcap. We had 3 others exactly like it. We had even replaced it!
To me, one of the most miraculous things about Jesus was the way He spoke in parables. We consider great works of literature “classics” when they endure the test of time and prove that the message they contain applies to people of all generations. Some classics have even been translated and cross the boundaries of language and culture. But here is Jesus, the God-man, telling stories that apply to *every* generation and *all* cultures. And told in such a way that they still come to life, and you can still become part of His story, 2000 years later on the other side of the world.
We became the woman in the story of The Parable of the Lost Coin. We lost something. We searched for it. We found it again. We rejoiced, told our friends the amazing story, and put our lost hubcap on display. But more importantly, we realized on a much larger scale, that we became part of the Jesus Story; the one where He died on the cross because He loved us so much; the one where just one sinner repenting and coming back to Jesus causes the angels in Heaven to rejoice. We looked at our experience, compared it to Bible literature, and our little story was made BIG.
Analogies are made. Meaning becomes clear. You can get a new lease on life….. through literature.