Lost Love

Updated: Aug 26

Missed connections and the love you don’t want to miss.

Many years ago, long before I met Jesus or my former husband, I met a man on a flight from Italy in a Nora Ephron-worthy plot, film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan back in the day. We had instant chemistry from Pisa's tarmac and bantered effortlessly for the full 11 hours and 40-plus minute flight. Separated in the chaos of JFK's baggage claim, I found him waiting for me after customs. He grabbed me, kissed me, gazed into my eyes and said, "I could fall in love with you quick!" Terrified, confused, and not wanting to betray the beau waiting at home, I rushed off, ignoring him calling after me. For years afterward, I wondered about that guy and what might have been. In the case of Jesus, the stakes for missed opportunities are so much higher.


Disaster averted?

The fact is, this fella and I did have instant chemistry...I was a cute 22, he was a swarthy-handsome 30ish. We had things in common. But there were some *tiny* red flags. Rumpled, he was already smoking and drinking when I boarded. He was heading Stateside after a two-year engineering assignment in Livorno and apparently, was one of the four people on Planet Earth who did not like Italy or Italians (except for me, of course). My whole family is Italian and in Italy. We also had a lot to drink for the duration of the flight, just possibly affecting our mutual clarity of vision.


What could go wrong, right?


At the time, in the blindness of reckless, inebriated, godless youth, it seemed like a truly tragic missed opportunity. However, the regret passed for sure. I don't even remember the guy's name and the headiness of the encounter is long forgotten.


Detail from "Creazione di Adamo" (the "Creation of Adam"), Sistene Chapel. Vatican, Michelangelo, c.1512

A few years later (again, before Jesus or my ex), I met another young man and fell what I thought was madly in love. The relationship soured for some very good reasons. Later, we had a chance to reconnect, but we both blew it. This too was a source of considerable pain for a long time, but eventually it, too, dimmed.


In fact, in the Light, as an ardent believer in Romans 8:28, on both occasions I trust my timeless God had my back all along and that these "missed opportunities" were actually Providential protection. Thank you, Jesus, for sparing me some heartaches.


Post-Covid-air-travel connection woes.

A radically different kind of missed connection is this issue of air travel, 2022. I took a seven-hour detour on a recent flight to Boston. I missed out on a day of activities at the retreat I was attending. Disappointing, but all told, it wasn’t a big deal.


Six-thousand U.S. flights were canceled last weekend. That’s a lot of missed connections, jumbled travel plans, missed meetings, late starting vacations, and the headache of unruly, overtired kids, but it’s not a catastrophe.


There was another time when I missed a connection in Paris on my way to Italy and had to hang out at de Gaulle airport for many hours with several very weary travel companions. We set up camp on the floor in the terminal. It sounds pretty glamorous, but the fact is, airport terminals look about the same wherever you go and napping on the floor is still napping on the floor.


We eventually made it to Rome just fine.


Clearly, these are first world problems of little consequence. All told, the real-life impact of these missed connections is minimal.


Not all missed opportunities are so trivial.


Lost love, big time.


6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7 (ESV)

This verse in Isaiah is quite bracing. It seems to imply that there’s a time when God may not be found. That we cannot connect with Him.


Is this true? Could you find yourself in a situation--a real or metaphorical foxhole--and not be able to find God?



Well first, let's look at the practical perspective.


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1.) Trusting strangers.

I may be a little more wary of humans than average, but even if you're the trusting sort, it's hard to lean on a total stranger, especially in dire straits. If your relationship with God is kind of remote or downright cool, when that foxhole moment comes, you may not find Him all that cozy and comforting. After all, you're not "like this" so you don't really get the full benefit of a super-close relationship with the God of the Universe. Still, many of us have cried out in the foxhole and felt the comfort of God's presence swooping in to comfort us or intervene.


Then there's the way more disturbing scenario.


2.) God is not findable.

There may come a time when you cannot find God, even though you really want Him, and that He's actually hiding. Is this just plain mean? God is perfect, and perfectly loving and just, so I'd prefer not to quibble with His policies, but let's unpack this hide- and-go-seek God a bit.


There are other times in The Book when God has hidden or blinded people to life-saving wisdom. I'm going to begin with a more familiar story for classic movie fans: The Ten Commandments, with the unforgettable Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner.


Initially, Pharaoh Yul Brenner is just downright defiant when Moses brings the Word from God that Yul should release the slaves. Yul stands his ground through six plagues (yes, plagues). Then Yul starts to lose his nerve and seems about to relent, but in a troubling turn, God hardens pharaoh's heart so he remains defiant through four more plagues until he suffers the cruelest punishment of all: the plague that kills his young son and other boys. That's when Yul finally gives in and lets the Israelite slaves free. But what a cost! (Even so, you'll remember that in a fit of rage, Yul soon decides to go after the liberated slaves and the Egyptians get swallowed by the Red Sea. We’re all like that.)


Why would God harden Yul if Yul was on the brink of giving in? Well, God is God, and in the overall picture, it seems that perhaps God's grace and mercy does have some limits and/or to accomplish his greater, eternal aim, He hardened Pharaoh's heart so that the story would play out as it did.


Of course, one wants to believe that was a tough, Old Testament God move. Jesus would never do such a thing, right?


Sigh.


Playing deaf, striking blind.

There are actually several instances in the New Testament that refer to God/Jesus clearly stating some people are or will be blinded for a variety of reasons or that He may be harder (or impossible) to access on demand.


In one instance, Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees, the religious "elite" of the day.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” John 9:39-40 (ESV)

Good question! In this verse, He's speaking of the religious folks who thought they were holy but were blind to their own sin and need for saving.


Hmm.


The common cause of when God actively hardens people’s hearts or blinds them to truth seems to be when people resist Him or Truth despite ample opportunity to see and acknowledge Him. He's known to have done this with unbelievers who simply refuse to recognize Him, but also with believers who are engaging in wanton, remorseless sin. He has His purposes and methods.


At some point, He hardens their hearts or blinds them, thereby turning them over to the full brunt of the devastating consequences of doing life without Him.


To anthropomorphize this to underscore the loving intent, picture an adoring, devoted parent with a lost child--an all too familiar and believable scenario--insistent on destroying their life with say, drugs and crime--or the seemingly more benign, laziness. Maybe the parent has tried everything to help the child, including misguided and repeated rescues like bailing them out of jail, paying for high dollar attornies, covering up for them.


A popular new Netflix offering takes this to an extreme, when parents lie to hide their coed daughter's murdering her bff.


Desperate, overwhelmed, and pushed into a last-ditch effort to rescue their child, the parents may finally let the young person suffer their rightful consequences to save their life. Finally feeling the full weight of their misdeeds, the child may turn it around. I know something about this. My older brother died of a drug overdose after years of my mother's sacrificial coddling though achingly well-meaning. He might still be here had he faced some consequences, but she would not have it. I find comfort in knowing they're both in a tearless heaven today.


Many people have such testimonies of unchecked waywardness or turnarounds on the heels of bad consequences.


Either way, the tale of woe can serve as a warning to us.


There are several other places in Scripture in which God either ducks and weaves or actively blinds people to accomplish a greater good, as justice, or yes, as a penalty for indifference to Him or to Truth.


This sounds so bad to me! I've sampled it myself and I never, ever, never want to find myself unable to find my God. Most especially now, when things down here are so very messy.


Let me tell you this: It's not just about skipping hell when you die, though that's a good thing for sure. It's about having access to the supernatural peace, wisdom, courage, power, comfort, love, etc. that comes from true dependence on Jesus and enables us to face just about anything with confidence.


And if you're a believer and are not experiencing those things most of the time, something is amiss.


Of course, there's Good News!



Good News

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7 (ESV)

Part two of the verse says that if we do seek and call upon God when He's within ear shot, He'll have compassion on us and forgive us.


If you've sensed Jesus near and knocking, stirring in your heart to reply or seek Him, don't wait to accept His invitation and help.


As individuals and as a nation, let's not tarry until He's no longer listening for our cries or is out of earshot because we've turned a deaf ear to His loving call.


Let's answer His love call while He is near.


Love, grace, peace, and joy in Christ,








PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for the many times I've silenced your voice and turned away from your embrace. Please fill me with a desire to seek you so I can enjoy You and Your benefits now and in eternity. TAKEAWAY TOOL: For the next week, spend 30 minutes praying, reflecting on and journaling about one or all of the following verses: Matthew 6:33,