We're living with three dogs now. Socks is the oldest at 15. A beagle lab mix, she was the runt of the litter when Hannah's dog Jewel had puppies. Moo came to us first as Abram's dog. A registered Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, he became Gina's dog and protector when Abram left to go to grad school. Sadie is the newest addition to the pack. A miniature dachshund, we gave her to Gina's parents 10 years ago. She's come to live with us now.
We went out to eat one night this week, leaving the three dogs safely locked in. When we returned, Gina noticed one of the Christmas wreaths on our windows had fallen. I went to see if I could repair it; Gina went inside.
In a few minutes she came back out and said, "Is Sadie out here with you? I can't find her." I put down the wreath and began to search with Gina. We searched under beds and inside closets. Gina went to search the front yard, while I took a flashlight and combed the backyard. No Sadie.
Gina took the car to search the neighborhood; I went on foot into the neighbor's yards, hoping no one would mistake me for a burglar. I even checked the storm sewers.
My mind rushed to calamity. What if she fell in the pond and drowned? What if she got out and got picked up? What if she had a stroke somewhere in the woods and was dying? I admit I prayed: "Lord, please let us find this dog. If we lose her so soon after getting her what will we do?"
Gina came back, saying she saw nothing. I had seen no signs. I asked her again, "Are you sure she isn't in the house?" She said she was positive. I decided to search the house again, while Gina went to search the yard again. The next step would be to knock on the neighbor's doors.
About three minutes into re-searching the house, the phone rings. It's my neighbor, Julian. He said, "I think I have something of yours. She's all snuggled up on my lap." Sadie had crawled under the fence and was wandering around in Julian's drive when he came home. Fickle dog that she is, she followed him right on into his house and up into his lap. When he told me he had her, relief surged through my soul.
I ran outside to tell Gina, then we hustled over to Julian's to reclaim our dog. I spent the next hour in the dark trying to plug the holes in the fence so she wouldn't get out anymore.
When I went to work on my sermon for the week, I read these words, "We all like sheep have gone astray " Sheep, little dogs, and humans all have the urge to roam. We all want to believe boundaries are for others, not for us. We push past those boundaries and wander away from the God who truly loves us. For many of us, there is no kind neighbor who rescues us. Instead, we live frustrated lives knowing we aren't where we need to be. We miss the safety and security of home.
If Gina and I, imperfect people that we are, panic over a little dog, how much more does your Heavenly Father yearn to find you?
Wherever you are, in whatever way you are lost, our Heavenly Father is looking for you, to bring you home.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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