I was invited to speak at a conference in Switzerland several years ago. To get to the event, I flew into Zurich and traveled by train across some of the most spectacular countryside in the world. The efficiency of the train system and its passengers was both remarkable and unsurprising in a culture that prizes businesslike precision.
As a result, I was surprised to read this headline: “Swiss authorities search for the person who left $191,000 of gold bars on train.” The package was found in the carriage of a Swiss Federal Railways train traveling from the Swiss town of St. Gallen to Lucerne in October of last year.
Officials state that despite “extensive investigations,” they have not been able to locate the owner of the package. The gold bars have been confiscated by the public prosecutor’s office. Officials said the owner has five years to make a claim for them.
Several explanations are possible. I’ve listed them in ascending order of apparent plausibility:
One: The owner(s) forgot they left the bars on the train. They would have to be remarkably forgetful, however.
Two: The owner(s) are embarrassed to have left the bars and unwilling to reclaim them. They would have to be remarkably wealthy to abandon them, however.
Three: The owner(s) are too busy to take time to reclaim the bars. But see explanation number two.
Four: The owner(s) do not realize their loss. But see explanation number two.
Five: The bars were stolen; when the thief accidentally left them on the train, he or she was unwilling to risk claiming them. But the owner from whom they were stolen would surely have claimed them by now.
Six: The owner(s) died after accidentally leaving the bars on the train. But someone in their family would likely have notified authorities upon learning of the loss.
Seven: The bars were payment for illegal activities such as a drug deal. The owner(s) are therefore unwilling to claim them. The authorities are publicizing their existence, hoping for information that will lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
I’m sure there are other explanations we haven’t considered as well. But here’s what we do know: one of the most efficient governments in the world has been unable to find the owner of a remarkable treasure.
Gratitude for the Savior who found us and loves us
The story brings to mind Jesus’ famous parable: When a shepherd lost one of his sheep, he left the others and went searching for it. When he found it, he brought it home on his shoulders and then called his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him (Luke 15:3–6).
Jesus then noted, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (v. 7).
If you have trusted Jesus as your Lord, think back to the day you made this decision. You found God because God first found you: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). On that day, there was “great joy in heaven.”
In the midst of these difficult days, remember this: The One who saved you and found you still loves you enough to die for you.
Why do you need that reminder today?