Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Lesson of the Camera Case

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7, ESV).

Sometime last semester, I mislaid the camera case in which I keep my digital camera. Generally, I am quite adept at keeping track of my belongings because I adhere to the old adage "a place for everything, and everything in its place." I vaguely remember leaving the case somewhere, but I don't remember where. When it came time to pack for my trip to England in November, I hunted high and low, everywhere I could think for that camera case. I couldn't find it, and I got very frustrated. Anytime I lose something, however small, it distresses me and makes me feel that my whole life is unraveling.

Gradually, I came to accept that my camera might have to go caseless the rest of its life, and that its life might be the shorter for it--oh well. The other day, I noticed a few scratches on the camera's viewfinder, and that reminded me that the case was still missing. Then it occured to me that I had never really prayed to find the missing case. So I prayed. I didn't demand that God drop it in my lap; I merely asked if it was still around that He would help me find it. And then I forgot about it.

This morning, I was up early doing laundry when I had the notion to paw through our dorm's Free Box, something I rarely do. First, from the top of the pile, I pulled out a sweater that looked like a "maybe." Encouraged by my find, I started digging in another corner of the box, and before I'd got verydeep at all, I hit gold. There was my camera case!

I don't know who put it there, but I believe it was God Who prompted me to look in the Free Box. I didn't know what I was looking for, but I found it.

There are other things I've been looking for that I haven't found, mainly answers to questions of faith. These questions that continue to plague me are questions I once thought I had all the answers to, but now all I see is the questions. I despair. I feel unsettled. I demand answers to these questions, and I get nowhere closer to finding their answers.

The circumstances surrounding the loss and relocation of my camera case remind me in a tangible way that God does answer prayer. But more, the episode strikes me that our soul-perplexing questions in His perspective are no more troublesome than the whereabouts of my camera case. I have the questions, and He does have the answers. It is not for me to despair over finding answers, because He promises if I seek, I will find. It sounds clichéd, but it is so true.

I think my attitude toward finding the answers ought to reflect my attitude toward finding the camera case: I must trust God to help me find the answers in His time. There is no reason at all to go into panic. How often do I overlook something because I'm in a state of panic. Last week is a case in point (no pun intended). I misplaced my keys and didn't realize it until I needed to leave for church. I couldn't find them in any of the normal places, so I began thinking back to when I had them last. I couldn't remember specifically. But when I calmed down and simply asked God to help me, I remembered dropping them in a tote I was carrying back to my dorm from the car. And sure enough, that is where I found them.


God hears what we pray, from our requests for help finding a misplaced camera case or a set of keys, to our requests to understand the truths contained within His word. In His eyes, is there that much difference between the small and the great, the mundane and the monumental? I don't think so. Obviously, it is more important to find truth than it is to find a camera case. However, neither the quest for the camera case nor the quest for truth poses much of a challenge where God's ability is concerned.

Can I trust God enough to let go of desperation and simply seek? Am I assured of His ability to help me find, or will I persist in striving on in my blind frustruation for the answers that seem impossibly elusive? So far, I've done pretty well to let God help me find things, keys and camera cases and such but not so well in letting Him help me find more important items such as truth. But I believe He will help me to do better, and I am going to try.

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