Seven years ago today, an 8-year-old girl was torn from her family by a violent tsunami wave that struck her hometown of Meulaboh, Indonesia. She was recovered by a wicked woman “who called her Wati and forced her to beg, sometimes beating her and keeping her in the streets until 1 a.m.” (Fakhrurradzie Gade, AP, via Denver Post, 12/25/11, 14A). When she stopped bringing money in to the woman, she told her to leave and find her parents. She even told her the hometown from which she hailed. Now a teenager, “Wati” had to draw on vague recollections to find her family. She remembered her grandfather was named “Ibrahim,” and locals in Meulaboh took her to the man and ultimately to her parents. They had long given up hope that she had survived. 230,000 people perished in that infamous tsunami, including tens of thousands in her province alone, but Meri Yuranda, Wati’s real name, was reunited with her overjoyed parents (ibid.).
Such reunions are, sadly, rare, but they are thrilling when they occur. The imagination races with all the twists and turns of a seven year journey that began with a tidal wave and ended with a solemn, yet happy, rejoining. That the girl would escape death and then survive an unhappy experience far from home is amazing enough. That she would be resourceful and savvy enough to rediscover her family is almost unbelievable.
How it illustrates the terrible, spiritual circumstances facing the vast majority of this world. Swept away and enslaved by sin (Eph. 4:14; Rom. 6:16-18), they find themselves in the cruel far country (cf. Lk. 15:13). Too often, they never find their way to the Father. However, when they do search for Him, they find Him (Ac. 17:27)! It sets off a joyful celebration in the Father’s House (Lk. 15:25ff)! The Father never ceases hoping and longing for the return of the wayward ones, but we must come back to Him. What a happy ending is made when we are reunited with the loving, waiting Father!