"Rhonda, where are you?"  At first it was a question, but after a search of the whole house was made and three-year-old Rhonda was nowhere to be found it became a panicked scream!  It was late.  It was dark and it was it was cold.  Our baby was not to be found.

Everybody loses something once in a while.  Some things are more important than other things which get lost.  For instance, I always carry a pocket knife.  I have ever since I can remember.  It was rumored a boy born in Oklahoma was required to have a pocket knife.  It was for cleaning my fingernails, or for whittling, tightening screws, or  for any of the other 150 uses.  Most of my knives are hand-me-downs from my dad.  He and I used to give each other pocket knives as gifts, so they mean a lot to me.

I don't lose my knife very often, but when I do I usually find it before long but it's not a good feeling to lose it.  I recently lost my knife and couldn't find it for a couple of months, but finally found it in the lining of a stuffed chair in my living room.  A chair I seldom sit in, but one day I slouched down and my knife slid out of my pocket and down beside the cushion.  

My wife, June, occasionally misplaces her earrings.  These are trivial things and I don't even know if they are deserving of offering a prayer about or not.

Now, losing your car keys is a bit more serious.  Not too long ago I lost my keys and after an extensive search I found them in the waste basket.  I had taken the keys out of the car, picked up a hand full of trash, walked into the house and deposited it all in the trash can, including my keys.  I was lucky to be able to retrace my path and after digging in the filth I found them, and was thankful.

To a preacher, the word, "lost" holds a very different meaning but we won't get into that at this time.

If you lose your wallet or misplace a $100 bill, this is serious, but nothing close to losing one of your children.

It was in the dead of winter and cold and we were dressed for the occasion.  We had been on a trip, and  it was pretty  late for the kids when we got home.  They were staggering around half asleep so we told them to get ready for bed while we unloaded the car.  

We hadn't lived in the house but a couple of months and we were thankful it had good insulation and a good heating system.  We had left the thermostat on about 65 degrees and the house seemed toasty warm compared to the cold outside.  We threw our heavy coats on the living room couch and went about getting everything ready for bed.  Suddenly we realized we hadn't seen little Rhonda in a while.

A flash of panic struck me but, reason soon took over.  She had to be in the house, we had brought the children in first, and checked the house for ghosts and hobgoblins before unloading the car.  We were in and out, but surely she didn't go out into the cold air.  She must have gone into the wrong bedroom or was in the bathroom.

June called out, "Rhonda, where are you?"  There was no answer, and the silence was deafening.  Soon we were all yelling, "Rhonda!, Rhonda!," but no one answered.  We darted from room to room, looking in every crack and cranny, but, couldn't find Rhonda anywhere.  We looked in the car and all around the yard.  She was nowhere to be found.  

What would you do in a case like this?  

Believe me, this was a loss worthy of prayer and we prayed -- fervently!  I told June to call the police and I headed one way down the street and sent the two older girls the other way.  Never mind how late it was, we started knocking on doors and asking, "Have you seen a little blond-headed girl?"

We hadn't gone far when we heard June calling, "I found her!"  

I ran back to the house.  I had to see for myself.  Where was she?  How could we have overlooked her?  Why didn't she answer when we yelled and hollered  her name all around the house?

I burst into the house like a tornado and there she was!  My beautiful baby girl!  Sitting up on the couch blinking her eyes like a frog in a hail storm, trying to figure out what all the excitement was about.

June had figured out the riddle.  She walked into the living room and saw our heavy coats piled up on the couch.  She pulled them back and there was little Rhonda, cuddled up under the warm coats, sleeping soundly and peacefully totally oblivious to the panic which was going on around her.

Rhonda was tired and sleepy and everyone was hustling around trying to get things ready for bed.  She saw the pile of coats and it looked like a good nest to snuggle up in and get warm so she crawled under the pile.  She went sound to sleep and the coats muffled the sound of our panicked cries and they didn't faze her.

You better believe this was an occasion which merited sincere prayers of joy and thankfulness.  I will never forget the feeling I had in my heart when we couldn't find her.

The very word, lost, brings a connotation of dread to my mind.  You can take this statement any way you wish, but I don't want anybody to be lost.  Now, or in eternity!