22 August 2008

Lost Puppy

Luke 15:6 (NLT)
“When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep’.”

I met him on a Saturday afternoon, after the doors and gates of the lumber-yard were closed for the weekend. I was preparing the deposit of the day’s receipts when my brother and his daughter came in and sat something down on the end of the counter. “Okay, what’s that?” I asked as I moved closer to them. “This is our new dog” he replied. “The customers from my last delivery the other day have a litter of puppies. The mamma is a shepherd mix and they don’t know who the father is. This little guy was just laying back in the corner of the pen, so we chose him.”

I held him up to get a better look. He had gangly long legs with giant paws and big head that made him look all out of proportion. Then it happened: I caught a whiff of his puppy-breath. I was in love. We took him home and introduced him to Gypsy. She didn’t hurt him, but she wasn’t very kind to him either. She eventually resigned herself to tolerating him.

I was very attached to this little dog. I took him with me everywhere I could. He slept with me every night. He was substantially housebroken within two weeks. He filled such a big void in my lonely heart. I hurried home every night just to be with him.

I’ll never forget the horror that overcame me when, one evening, I came home and was gone! I called his name, searched inside and outside. I drove around the neighborhood and knocked on doors. I called the dog catcher’s office. I placed an ad in the newspaper describing his unique coloring as best as I could. He was about 40 pounds by then, had stripes like a black and brown tabby cat, and a black ‘saddle’ common to a German shepherd. His tail had rings of black and brown like a raccoon. The middle toe on his right-hind leg had white fur. I prayed for him, for his safety and for his return back home. I had a horrible realization that he might have wandered into the woods beyond our back yard and stepped onto a trap left by hunters. That thought and fears of him being chased by larger dogs or being hit by a car kept me awake at night.

After three long days and nights of tears and fears, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was a young lady calling to say she found my puppy! Oh, the joy that filled my heart! My precious little one was safe and sound. She and her boyfriend brought him back home the following day. I’ll always remember the moment when the young man’s shiny pick-up truck pulled into the driveway, my little pup sitting up between them, bright and alert, looking like a big boy. The ache in my heart was instantly cured. I rushed to greet them, and scooped him up in my arms and hugged him and kissed him until he’d had enough. After I said thank you a dozen times or so, the young couple went on their way. I took puppy inside, gave him a drink of water and some food and got busy calling all my friends to let them know he was back home!

This must be how our Father feels when a lost one has been found and returned to Him. Things happen and Christians, perhaps those just starting their walk with the Lord, or ones that are weak in their faith, lose sight of God. Weakness in faith can allow temptations of this world to get the best of them resulting in sins. Or, tragedy strikes and they feel as though they’ve been abandoned or that God failed them. Whatever the case, we have to be on-call, always ready to come to the aid of those that have lost their way. “We who are strong in faith should help the weak with their weaknesses.” (Romans 15:1 New Century Version) We keep each other strong in faith by praying for and with each other. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) Reading and sharing God’s word with others provides food for their soul as well as your own. “…People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT)

Hebrews 2:1 (NLT)
So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 (NLT)All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

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