Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Applause of Heaven
It was a beautiful summer day in central Indiana, the sun was shining brightly, but it wasn't too hot. It was a perfect day for the beach. Carol and I took Kathy and Twyla our two daughters—then in elementary school—and went to Missisinewa Reservoir for a picnic and a day of fun.
The beach was crowded that afternoon when the head lifeguard made an announcement over the speaker system that a little boy was lost. He was five years old, with blonde hair and was wearing blue shorts with white sailboats on them. She said if anyone should found him to bring him to the lifeguard tower.
I noticed a small boy who somewhat fit that description playing in the sand nearby— but he was sitting beside his parents, so I thought no more about it.
A few minutes later the announcement was made again. The boy's name was Jimmy. I still wondered about the little boy sitting there, but again I dismissed the possibility it was Jimmy. Another few minutes and the lifeguard blew her whistle and ordered everyone out of the water. She asked some of the swimmers nearby to join hands and wade through the water—they were looking for Jimmy's body. Almost everyone on the beach was watching the scene play out. It was as if we were all collectively holding our breath. The beach was totally quiet.
Again I noticed the little boy and just at that instant, the couple sitting beside him, who seemed to be the only ones on the beach who were not paying attention, got up, took their blanket, and walked away.
The little boy continued to play in the sand. He didn't even glance up when they left.
I walked over to him and as I got closer I noticed his trunks were blue with small white sailboats.
"Is your name Jimmy?" I asked.
"What?" He asked as he looked up at me.
I repeated the question and he answered yes.
"Your parents are worried about you", I said. "Let's go find them."
One of the life guards was standing nearby watching the frightening scene with her hands over her mouth, as if trying to muffle a scream. I took Jimmy to her and she, too, questioned him. When she realized he was the missing child, she took his hand and they raced across the beach toward the lifeguard's tower. They ran so fast Jimmy's feet just barely touched the sand.
I watched as Jimmy's parents welcomed him back with open arms and hugs. I heard the lifeguard announce joyfully over the loud speaker that everything was ok. Jimmy had been found. And I smiled and joined in as spontaneous applause broke out up and down the beach.I remembered then what Jesus said, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Now I can imagine what that is like when one of God’s lost children comes home to God’s love.