Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7 (NIV)
Last night, I had to go to church for a short business meeting. When I got home after only being gone an hour, Cory was missing. I knew something was wrong when I called the dogs for dinner and she was not the first one begging to eat. Husband and I searched the yard, underneath the shed where Summer got trapped once, along the fence line to see if there were any holes that she might have dug to get out and in the pasture and back field. With flashlights poking into every place she might be, we could not find her. I even went back into the house to search thinking she could be locked in a bathroom or closet by accident. She was nowhere to be found at home so we started looking outside the fence. It was weird because the three other dogs were at home and I could not figure out why she would have left alone. I finally reasoned that maybe the gate had been left open long enough for her to squeeze out, but the others did not have time to get out. I was very afraid that someone might have picked her up and that I would never see her again. Husband was convinced she was locked up somewhere and suspected it was in our friends’ horse trailer. We keep their horses in our back yard. They went camping and came home about 4:30 very tired because they got in the middle of some heavy holiday traffic. They unloaded their horses from their trailer and prepared to go on home. The wind had pushed the trailer doors shut so they just latched the doors and left. Husband figured that Cory might have gotten into their trailer for a snack of manure and was shut in. But, when he went to our friends’ house, he did not hear Cory barking or crying in the trailer. By this time, our neighbors heard our calling and came to help look. We had an army of golf carts scouring the island. One neighbor posted it on the island website while another got in her car and went to the other side of the highway to look. We live in a semi rural area where houses are built on several acres and surrounded by fences and gates. Everyone is very isolated. Some of our neighbors we have not even talked to in more than a year and yet, they came out to help look for my dog. After almost two hours of looking, I told everyone. “If she could hear us and if she could get out, she would be here by now. She is very obedient and comes when she is called.” I went home and broke down, sobbing, loud, deep wails at the thought of my dog never coming home. Oldest son said he could hear me all the way down at the road. I could not stop my grief was so deep. Husband told me that I was making things worse by crying and that I needed to quit being so emotional. That she would eventually make it home. I had a choice, to either hit him, curse at him or walk away. I decided I had too much to deal with to risk a divorce, too so I grabbed my flashlight and went back out to search. I walked almost around the entire island calling for her. When I got to the street where they live, I heard a little whine. No barking or anything. They live about a block off the road so I turned that way and kept calling her, but didn’t hear any more signs. When I got to the trailer, the only way I knew she was in there was the banging of her tail against the side of the trailer. I guess she found the gold mine of manure and wasn’t ready to share it with anyone. I got her out of the trailer, called home for a ride, made some more calls to let everyone know to quit searching and sat down and loved on my dog and thanked God for a few minutes until husband arrived to take us home. After I emotionally unwound from the terror of losing Cory, I thought about these verses and also something I read in one of Amy Grant’s books. She writes about her adult children and some of the choices they make as they start their own lives. She worried about their relationship with God and so, she learned how to pray, “Find them, like you found me.” She says that God found her in some dark places and she knows He will find the ones she loves as well. It is comforting to think of God combing the darkness, calling our name and drawing us home. His desire for us to turn back to Him is even deeper than my grief at losing my dog.