September 23, 2011 by Jay Helms
I met an Australian once. She was 8 years old. Her name was Jessica. Here’s the story of our encounter.
Last January, before we left North Carolina to go to Disney World for a family gathering to celebrate my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary, I was compelled to pray specifically that God would be present in our travels and would actually speak to me through the trip. I know that may sound funny, but I had always been bothered that my vacations had somehow been time and territory where I did not really think about God very much. This time, I wanted it to be very different. The Lord responded to my prayer.
On January 24, as Carla & the kids were napping at the hotel, I was in one of the parks getting tickets for our family to go on a ride without having to wait once they returned later in the day. And then I met this sweet little Australian 8 yr old girl Jessica in the Magic Kingdom.
I was jogging through Frontierland quickly, concentrating on something else entirely and somehow she caught my eye. There were literally hundreds of happy people all around her. Yet no one seemed to notice her utter terror. She had lost her parents and she was standing in the middle of the broad sidewalk in Frontierland near the big steam-powered riverboat. Jessica was literally crying her eyes out. I could see her body shaking with fear. And the amazing thing was everyone else was blissfully walking right past her, within 2 feet, oblivious to the tears of despair rolling down her cheeks.
I stopped in my tracks. The stop was so abrupt that I almost fell on top of her. As I got down on one knee to talk with her, I discovered (praise God) that her parents had written her father’s phone number on her arm in permanent ink. That trace of a connection to her Father on her arm was a reminder of how deeply this sweet thing was loved. After convincing her I would not leave her until we found her Father, the fear in her eyes began to drain away. I called her parents and told them she was safe and sound and that we would get her back to them as quickly as possible. Eventually, with the help of a Disney Cast Member, Jessica was returned safely to her parents. I never had the privilege of meeting her family, but I still have the grateful text message her dad sent to me.
Can you begin to imagine what she was experiencing as she stood there, surrounded yet completely alone, separated from her parents, in a foreign country? Can you imagine how desperately her parents wanted to find her? It was, to me, a deep and profound reminder of how God sent Jesus to help the lost get back home to our Father. It made me wonder if we’re not all just as lost as Jessica without really realizing it…
I must say it is a satisfying delight to the soul to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus himself, helping a lost one be brought home to her Father. And I keep praying that one day she will come to know Jesus and we will have a splendid reunion in his presence, at his home, never to be lost again.
Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10. May it be so, Lord.