The ABC television website describes the plot of a new ABC adventure series “Lost” as being about “survivors of a mid-Pacific plane crash who have landed on an island of harsh terrain, cruel weather and dark secrets.”

But with the addition of “a frightful creature that stalks the jungle” like I stalk dessert menu at TGIF, this show isn’t exactly your father’s Gilligan’s Island.

Truthfully, the ABC show seems loosely based on an idea I had about a chaplain’s family who happily rents a 19-foot ski boat from H&H Marina to explore a local river delta. But, in my version of “Lost,” the family is painfully ignorant of two things.

First, the gas mileage on this boat is actually measured in “nautical feet to the gallon.” And second, the family has no inkling that wandering into any river delta without a guide is a bit like wandering into the everglades or a rain forest – or an after-Christmas sale without my wife.

As the happy little family departs the marina, they gleefully jam their teenagers into an oversized inner tube and throw them overboard. With the tube safely fastened to a ski rope, dad throws the accelerator forward making really cool vroom sounds. Now, with his chest hairs blowing, he watches the landmarks disappear as he skillfully negotiates the dozens of turns and mazes the delta presents.

After a few hours the family happened upon fuel and food. This discovery seems to embolden the dad’s ignorance, so he plunges deeper into the delta maze.

However, as the afternoon wears on, the danger music begins to play. Fear
invades the face of the chaplain’s wife as she clutches the map given her by the rental proprietor – the kind of caricature map given to you at an amusement park. She grips her husband’s arm, pointing furiously at the map, “We’re lost!”

Yet, emblazoned by his prior success at finding fuel, the chaplain accelerates to full speed, knowing that if they were really lost, a little more speed would magically orient them once again. But as he watches his gas gauge fall faster than a Florida barometer, he wisely cuts the engine to study the map.

Finally, as the delta light begins to dim, the chaplain begins to bargain with God. “Lord, if you get me out of this, I’ll go to church every Sunday.”

“You already go to church every Sunday” replies his eavesdropping wife.

“Oh, you heard that, huh?”

“Yes,” she says. And ever the theologian, she adds, “And I don’t think God is going to get you out of your intentional ignorance so easily.”

Suddenly, he hears another voice. “Dad!” calls his teenage daughter as she taps on the gas gauge and points toward the approaching River Patrol, “Maybe you should ask the Rangers for directions.”

Following the advice, the chaplain pulls his boat along side the patrol boat, his wife still holding the map.

“Looks like we have another lost H&H boat,” the ranger says to her partner.

The family sighs and knowing that they are one of many lost boats makes them a little more accepting of their father’s human frailty.

And finally as the sun sets, the landlubbing family is seen drifting toward their slip, gently grazing the adjoining boats of horrified onlookers. Nevertheless, they’re home -happy that damage estimates seemed significantly less than their VISA limit.

And as the credits roll, you’d no doubt see a disclaimer that would read — Any resemblance to any real people, living or dead, or any real events which actually happened on Thursday, August 26, 2004 is entirely – well, pretty much truthful.”

While I tell this story more for entertainment than to impart theological truths, I do suspect that we weren’t really lost that day. We weren’t lost because we were one of many H&H boats that were counted each day and recovered before the end of the day. While many boats were rented that day, if just one boat failed to return, H&H would have put out a search to find it.

I’m thankful that God can be a little like H&H. God always knows where we are. When we are lost, we can be assured that God is always looking for us. Because God values each of us the way he values all of us and values all of us as if we were the only one.

Stay tuned next week when the chaplain rents an airplane and his wife smartly prepares the parachutes.