The trinity of parables in Luke 15 – lost coin, lost sheep, lost sons.
The first doesn’t seem to get as much attention as the other two. Poor women, peasant women, didn’t have much of a dowry to fall back on if their husbands died or divorced them (which in first century Palestine, men were in the habit of doing for any trivial reason). Friends, neighbors, extended family – likewise poor – would scape up enough to give the bride 10 coins, 10 drachmae, strung as a necklace.
Ten days wages; that’s all she had that was hers no matter what. The necklace also had great sentimental value and would be passed down to her oldest daughter. If one coin was missing, it was useless. Implied in the parable is the fact that somehow the string broke, the coins fell, nine were recovered, the tenth went missing. The peasant woman sweeps and searches, sweeps and searches. It’s got to be here somewhere.
Finally, it is found. Relief. Rejoicing. Call in the neighbors to celebrate.
In the more famous parable of the lost sons (they were both lost in different ways), one of them – the one who wished his father dead and squandered his inheritance – eventually wises up and goes home to a father who acts just like God – welcoming and forgiving. But, in the parable of the lost coin, the coin has no ability to help the woman find it. Likewise in the parable of the lost sheep, the ewe is too lost, doesn’t know how to begin to go home. Both the coin and the sheep have to be found by a woman and by a shepherd respectively.
God is like the father who runs to greet and welcome the repentant.
God is like the shepherd who searches until he finds the ewe, then carries her home.
God is like the woman, determined to find the coin without which the necklace is incomplete.
God is relentless in love.
God will not force, coerce, manipulate, or violate human free will.
But God will never give up the search until you and I are safe in divine care.
The world may or may not think you’re a big deal.
In God’s eyes, you are exceedingly precious.