Little Lamb Lost
It’s what mothers’ worst nightmares are made of – the last thing Jason and Trina Baker expected as they headed out into a blizzard in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on January 2, 1999. And because it was so unexpected, it was all the more horrifying when it happened.
As they headed out into the gathering storm for a few provisions, little 7-month-old Rachel slept blissfully in her car seat, bundled up against the winter cold. Jason dropped Trina off at a store and stopped at a gas station to fuel up.
Thinking to keep his little lamb (the meaning of “Rachel”) warm, Jason left the vehicle running and went to pay the clerk. He stepped out of the station just in time to see his car accelerating away down Leonard Street.
Frantically, Jason ran back into the store, dialed the police and reported the crime. When the officer arrived, there was little information Jason could give beyond the description of little Rachel and of the green Saturn he had been driving. The fleeting glimpse of the thief was only enough to see that he seemed to be wearing a dark coat.
Whatever do you do at a situation like that? Where can you find help in times of need? Your heart is pounding like a trip hammer. Your mind is running off in a dozen directions. Fears, doubts, questions, all tumble over each other in your brain. You’re grateful for friends and family who gather round, but you need something deeper, more profound. You need a Friend bigger than your problem, who can give hope, who can answer your fervent prayers.
Jason and Trina are still very grateful for the city-wide search sparked by the theft. Police, taxis, buses, snowplow drivers and others kept watch for their green Saturn. They found several, but not the one they were actually looking for.
The news spread quickly through Trina and Jason’s families to their many Christian friends who believe in prayer and the God who hears and answers His people’s cries.
Meanwhile, Trina, waiting at home for news of her little lost lamb, was fervently praying too. She says, “When our little Rachel came to us a month early on May 30, 1998, J gave her to the Lord and prayed for wisdom to teach her to love and trust the Good Shepherd. Now as J sat waiting, I remembered giving her to the Lord when she was born, and cried as I told the Lord she was still His.”
The vigilant police didn’t find the Saturn. Nor did the snowplows, taxis, or buses, in spite of their efforts. The stolen car had sped away from the station around noon. And it was now well after one o’clock, 14 degrees outside, and the wind was picking up.
The Veenstras are Christian friends who live in Middleville, south of Grand Rapids. They had heard about the abducted baby and intended to keep their eyes peeled as they headed for work across town.
For some reason that afternoon, they followed a route it was never their habit to take. Suddenly, Anneke Veenstra spotted the car at about 1:45 PM. It was sitting abandoned in a Muffler Shop parking lot. Inside was baby Rachel, crying lustily, but otherwise doing well.
“It’s pretty amazing,” the Grand Rapids Press reported Police Lt. Larry Frye’s comment. “Think about finding a car with a little baby in it in a city the size of Grand Rapids. To me that’s pretty much a divine act of God.”
Jason agrees. “It was just a miracle. The Lord had His hand in it. We’re extremely thankful that the Lord brought her back and that she’s safe and sound.”
But what if she hadn’t been “safe and sound”? We don’t even like to think of such a question, but the fact is that tragedies occur like that every day. Where is God when bad things happen? Does He care?
Shortly after the theft, Jason had been joined at the gas station by his dad, Larry. In seeking to console them, the police officer had told them, “We’re doing all we can.” Larry responded that they appreciated that, but their hope was in God. “Whatever He has for us is best,” he added.
Is it possible that crises in our lives are allowed by God to bring us greater good? When trouble hits our life, three things usually happen, three things that can actually change us for the better.
1] First, a crisis tends to bring everything into focus. All of a sudden, the things that seemed so important a moment ago just evaporate. Who cares about the clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, how much money you make when a loved one is in jeopardy? Suddenly you know what really matters in life.
2] Secondly, trouble tends to make us think about God, even if we’re not in the habit of doing that. As C. S. Lewis wrote: “Pain is God’s megaphone to get our attention when nothing else will.” Instinctively we know that there are some problems in life that are too big for us to handle.
3] But thirdly and most importantly in time of trouble, when we turn to God, we may discover that we are not on speaking terms with Him. You may be very religious but you find out that your religion doesn’t really help you in the hour of crisis; you need a relationship with the Lord. Or you may be irreligious and you find yourself going to God because there is nowhere else to turn. But whether religious or not, when you go to God, you find something in the way.
God tells us what it is: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear: but your iniquities (self-centered acts of sin) have separated between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Between every person and God there is a wall, built by our own hands. Each stone in the wall is an act or thought that is offensive to God. But having built the wall, we can’t tear it down. It is a God-sized problem that only He can fix. And He can! Listen to this wonderful statement from the Bible:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
This is speaking about Jesus, the Son of God, who came into this world to repair the damage we had done by our sins. When He died for you and me on the cross at Calvary, He made it possible for us to be saved from the penalty of our sins. How do we get in on this tremendous blessing? “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those that believe on His name” (John 1:12).
If you know that your sin is in the way of a relationship with God, if you are willing to turn from it to God’s Son and ask Him to be the remedy to your great need, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior, you have His promise: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 17:31).
Then whatever difficulties may come into your life, you will know that the BIG issue is settled. You can say in the words of the old hymn written by H. G. Spafford, a Chicago attorney who lost three children in a marine tragedy:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say:
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Advice From a Puritan Mother December 13, 2019
These extracts are taken from the diary1 of Elizabeth Jollie, 2 the wife of Rev Timothy Jollie, who was the minister of the Non-conformist congregation in Sheffield from 1681 to 1714. Mrs Jollie was herself the daughter of Rev James Fisher, the ejected vicar of Sheffield who died in 1666 when Elizabeth was 19 years […]
Music in the Work of Calvin (Part Two) December 10, 2019
This second half of the address by the most eminent of all Calvin’s biographers was delivered in the ‘Salle de la Reformation’, at Geneva, in April 1902. It was translated and printed in the Princeton Theological Review, October 1909, from which source it is here reprinted with very slight abridgement. Emile Doumergue (1844-1937) was, at this […]