While shopping with my boys at a very crowded grocery store one day I suddenly realized my oldest son, Jacob, was no longer with us. Immediately I felt the color drain from my face, I got all sweaty and panicked. I searched the aisle where we were standing for any sign of that green sweatshirt that he was wearing- nothing. I turned to my middle son, Luke, and said, “where is your brother?” he, picking up on my haste and apprehension started to cry as he looked at me with those huge blue, tear filled eyes and said “I don’t know, mama.” It all happened so fast. All I could do was stand there… frozen.
Then my youngest son’s, Eli's, cries for more Cheerios snapped me out of it. I took a breath, which I must have been holding for a while because that breath of air kicked me into mama mode. I looked straight at the people beside me and said “my son is missing, I need you to help me find him” before long we had a search party. All these strangers banded together, description in hand, to find my lost little guy.
As I tried to hold it together, I continued to give Eli cheerios as I frantically searched for any sign of that green sweatshirt. Up and down, in and out. I could imagine the store going into lock down mode (you know where they don’t let anyone in or out of the store for fear that an abductor will be able to escape with my son)...
It seemed like a nightmare, a very LONG nightmare, but it had only been 5 or so minutes. At my breaking point, with a death grip on Luke and still feeding Eli Cheerios to keep him from crying, I thought I might collapse.
Then, all of the sudden I turn around and there was Jacob; Looking at me with a huge smile of relief. I must have looked like a deer in headlights to him as he tackled me right there in the store. I of course began to cry as I knelt down to hug him uncontrollably kissing every inch of that precious little face. He wrapped himself around me and I enveloped him in an embrace I will NEVER forget. There was such sweet relief and joy that we were in each other’s arms again. He lifted his head and commented about all the people starring and I was brought back to the real world. I thanked everyone immensely for helping and everyone rejoiced with me that we had found him.
When everyone returned to their shopping I turned to talk to him. I began, “I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize you weren’t with us. I was trying so hard to find you. Were you scared?” He very casually looked at me and said “I was at first but then I wasn’t because I knew I could find you” and somehow I managed a weak, whispery “how?”
Jacob bent down and picked up a Cheerio that Eli had dropped on the floor, stood up and smiled at me and as he held that Cheerio up he said… “I just followed the Cheerios”
That’s it, that’s all he said. As we left the store his words kept repeating in my head over and over. I kept thinking, what if I hadn’t had Cheerios? What if I had realized we they were being dropped? What if someone had swept up the Cheerios?
As soon as I had kissed, hugged and safely buckled each little, precious boy into their car seat, I sat down in the driver's seat and thanked God with every breath that I had for bringing my boy safely back to me.
After composing myself we drove home and although life went on like normal that night I just couldn’t stop thinking about how my sweet Jacob had, had the presence of mind to follow his baby brother's Cheerio trail. He had such faith that it would lead him back to me.
Then I started thinking about my faith in God. Is it that strong? If I was lost would I totally and completely trust that God would bring me through it with His own “trail”? Or would I stand there crying without a plan, without knowing what to do or who to turn to?
There are days in my life when I feel so totally swamped, in over my head, out of control and well…. Lost! But the thing is, I can never really be lost. Not as long as I follow the little “cheerios” that God has left for me.
If I can draw from God’s word and recall the lessons the bible teaches me then I will always be able to find my way back to Him, back to rest, back to the safety that His arms give me. My six year old trusted those Cheerios and didn’t have a doubt in his mind that at the end of that Cheerio trail I would be there waiting, wanting and begging him to come to the safety of my arms.
If I can only have the faith that God is with me, that he has left a trail of scripture, knowledge and wisdom all the time whether I’m tried, stretched to the breaking point, just fed up or… lost. God is with me… all I have to do is have faith in His Cheerio trail.
*Just a little Cheerio to leave you with: Isaiah 40:31 "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."