Now here is an entertaining news story. It’s actually a couple of years old but new to me today: Missing Woman Unwittingly Joins Search Party Looking for Herself. Really. It happened. 

A woman who was on a bus tour in through Iceland decided to go back to the bus and freshen up while they were near the Eldgja Canyon. Apparently, when she returned, none of her bus mates recognized the cleaned up version of their fellow tourist. But the old version of herself was memorable enough for them to think they had a missing passenger. Even more perplexing, this woman did not recognize the description they gave of the missing passenger (that would be her!), and joined the search party.

The article doesn’t reveal when the search began, but the coast guard was preparing a helicopter, and fifty people were searching through the terrain in vehicles and on foot until 3:00 AM, when they realized the missing woman was actually with them in the search party, searching for herself.How many applications can we get out of this gem of a story?

If you found yourself spending a day with a group of strangers, what would be their impression of you?How would they describe you if you went missing? This woman had to have made enough of an impression to be missed. If it were a mere matter of counting heads, they should have come up even, right? I mean, she was there. My daughter just had to pick one word to describe herself for an art project. She said that some of the students picked words that were too vague, like “thoughtful” or “friendly” and the teacher told them to try again. Solanna picked “sunny” and he said it was an apt word to describe herself. 

Does your perception of yourself match how others see you?This woman could not recognize her own self in the profile that was given. It almost sounds like she was delusional, doesn’t it? How can one be so out of touch with how they look and what their most basic perceived personality traits are? It makes you wonder what she sees when she looks in the mirror. It also makes me think about how a delusional evaluation of ourselves effects our prayer lives. If we are praying out of our own false perceptions, we are going to also have a false sense of our needs and what we are actually grateful for. 

This is where the God’s Word comes in nicely. The living and active word of God cuts through our own masks and delusions and exposes us for who we really are. Maybe the friends whom we choose to spend time with don’t have the heart to tell us the truth, but God does. Ant yet he doesn’t keep us there. Because of the work of Christ and the application of his Sprit, his beloved are actually being transformed into something far better than the clean up this woman returned to her bus mates with. God’s people are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. We do not need to despair when we see ourselves for who we really are because Christ is revealed to us in his Word.

Have you found yourself?This story gives a whole new light to the adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.”  You could search until 3:00 AM in the terrains of Iceland with the help of a buss full of people and the coast guard, looking for someone whom you’ve never recognized.

Maybe, instead, this story is a good illustration of our old life in Adam.By faith, the gospel reveals to us the good news that in Christ we are new creations. Our old life, which really wasn’t much of a life since we were enslaved to sin, is never to be found again. All I know is that pastors have a gem in this story. Put it in your illustration file for a rainy day when you just can’t think of a good analogy to connect your text to the readers. Every which way I turn this story, I find a new application.

*Originally published on January 9, 2015.