Cliff's Edge

The Search

Yasuo Takamatsu’s love for his wife compels him to keep searching for her.

Clifford Goldstein

Though most of us don’t remember the moment we first heard about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011, who can forget the amazing video footage of the water, like something from a 1960s Japanese monster movie, sweeping away everything in its path?

Of course, numerous calamities have caught our attention since then, and—let’s face it— however bad we feel over each one, we move on.

But for Yasuo Takamatsu, whose wife, Yuko, was swept off a bank roof in the Japanese tsunami, moving on has not been easy, especially because Yuko’s body has never been found, at least on land, which is why he turned to the sea. Yasuo has learned to scuba dive and, since 2013, has been diving off the coast in a search for his wife’s remains, or for her jewelry, clothing, her wallet—anything of hers to help give him closure.

“I expected it to be difficult,” Takamatsu said, “and I’ve found it quite difficult, but it is the only thing I can do. I have no choice but to keep looking for her. I feel closest to her in the ocean.”

Yasuo Takamatsu’s love for His wife compels him to keep searching for her.

We often hear the motif “humanity’s search for God,” or the like. And though some truth to this idea exists, the overarching story of Scripture is more about “God’s search for humanity.” Scripture is the ongoing story of our Creator’s desire to find lost humanity and return us to Himself.

How fascinating that the first recorded words in Scripture after the Fall—instead of the commands of Genesis 1 (“Let there be . . .”)—were in the form of a question, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9), a question God has been asking ever since. What was Christ’s coming to earth, after all, other than a search for fallen humanity?

In Mark 3 Jesus entered a synagogue where a man with a withered hand sat as some religious leaders waited to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored” (verse 5).

Jesus, the Creator, the one through whom God “made the worlds” (Heb. 1:2, KJV) (that’s worlds, plural), would not use that incredible power to force anyone to love or follow Him, including these religious leaders. Instead, He performed a miracle that would not only help the ailing man physically but would touch the hearts of these lost men He was seeking to bring to Himself.

How well did it work? How did they respond to God’s search for them?

“Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 3:6).

Yasuo Takamatsu’s love for his wife compels him, against tremendous odds, to keep searching for her. God’s love for us compels Him, also against tremendous odds (after all, the human heart is a dangerously wild card), to keeping searching for us as well.

Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His next book is tentatively titled Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity.

Clifford Goldstein