The 1938 Chicago Bears earned an unwanted place in the NFL record books. They fumbled the football more times in one season than any other team. A whopping 56 fumbles. But the 1938 Bears also hold the record for recovering more of their own fumbles than any other team. Of those 56 fumbles, the Bears recovered the football 37 times.
Thirty-seven times, the Bears held the ball, lost it, but recovered it. Delight to despair, and back to delight. Such a roller coaster ride of emotions! The lost, now found.
I know the joy of a fumble recovery; his name is Bilali.
In 2014, my husband and I decided to sponsor another child while in Tanzania with Compassion International. If a child needed a sponsor, we would open our hearts.
At a Center in Singida, Bilali walked up the hill and into our hearts. He needed hope, love, and a sponsor. We were ready and eager to provide all three.
In our first group hug, we felt instant love for our new son. We cherished our time with Bilali at his Center and on sponsor day. Two days to hold him and love him. We thanked God for bringing this precious young man into our lives and family.
Four months later, what we once held, slipped away. We struggled to comprehend the words spoken by the Compassion representative on the phone. Bilali was no longer in the program. We mourned our loss.
As the months passed, Bilali’s memory faded. At first, we prayed for him and his family. Eventually, we took his picture down. We filed it in a drawer along with his letters and pictures of our time together. Unanswered questions filled the silence. Why did God bring him into our lives, only to take him away? Why did we hold him, only to lose him?
With Tanzania never far from our hearts and minds, we explored Compassion’s website of unsponsored children on June 21, 2016. There, a very familiar face stared back at us. A little bit older, but a face we knew and loved. The face of a young man we once held in our arms on a hillside of Singida. Our son, Bilali. On June 21, 2016, we welcomed him back into our hearts and family.
We never understood why he left and we don’t know why he returned. The young man we lost, now recovered. Our disappointment shifted to delight and gladness. The lost, now found.
Jesus spoke a lot about the lost. In Luke 15, He told stories of a lost coin, sheep, and a son. Important lessons to remind us to always search for the lost and rejoice jubilantly when they return.
Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6b (NIV)
Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. Luke 15:9b (NIV)
Bilali’s picture is displayed in our kitchen; our lost son returned. He is our recovered fumble. We loved, we lost, and now we love again. Time to celebrate and rejoice!
But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15: 32 (NIV)