Flashback

That Moment

Alex came running into our bathroom where I was getting cleaned up to go preach out of town.  I was almost finished shaving when his voice caught my attention.  I turned, saw the tears in his eyes- along with the panicked look on his face- and knew something was certainly not right in his world.  I asked him what was wrong and he told me, “Sugar ran away!”

Note: Sugar is our family’s pet dog.  She’s a rescue dog… as in we rescued her, not that she saves people’s lives or anything heroic like that.  They told us she is full-blooded miniature schnauzer, but we doubt it.  She’s a sweet-enough dog, and we love her… most of the time.

In that moment of looking into Alex’s wet eyes, I flashed back to the day when I realized my dog, Pepper, had run away when I was close to Alex’s age…

My Moment

I had wanted a dog so badly, and a family in our church gave us one of the puppies their dog just had.  She was part beagle, part terrier with black and white hair and tan paws.  I named her Pepper and loved her deeply.

So you can understand why I was distraught when I came home from school one day and went out to play with my beloved pet, only to find that the guy who mowed our yard had left the gate to her fenced area open and she had run away.  I, too, ran inside to tell my parents that my dog had run away.  Mom called Dad at the office.  Dad came home, put me in the car with him and we went searching through all the neighborhoods around our house.  I hung my head out of the front window of that Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight sedan hollering, “Pepperrrrrrrrrrrr!”  But we couldn’t find her.

Eventually, it got too dark.  Dad told me we would have to go home and search more the next day.  I was heart broken.  I didn’t want to stop searching.  I just wanted to find my dog and bring her back to the safety of our home where I could care for her and love her.  Waiting till the next day seemed like a travesty committed by uncaring people.  I loved my dog desperately and wanted desperately to do whatever it would take to bring her back home.

Several days later, Pepper turned up at the dog pound.  She had made her way more than a mile to the middle school I attended.  Someone at a house near there called the pound and they picked her up.  Because she had a tag on, they contacted us.  I was overjoyed when I heard the news.  Mom and Dad informed me that we were going to have to pay money to get her back because they had to feed Pepper and give her extra shots just in case.  I didn’t care how much it would cost… I just wanted her back.

When we arrived, they brought Pepper out to us.  She looked scared, but happy to see us.  She also smelled.  And she had a spot of blue paint on the top of her head.  We paid the money… well, Mom and Dad paid… and we took Pepper home.  I bathed her, freshened up her bedding, gave her food and water.  And I reinforced that we should let the lawn guy know what kind of trouble he had caused… and that we would kindly appreciate him not letting this happen in the future.  The blue paint washed off, but left her hair white in that spot the rest of the time we had her.  Man, I loved that dog!

Our Moment

In that moment, when my eyes met Alex’s, I knew what we had to do.  I turned off the water, put down the razor, skipped wiping the remaining shaving cream off my top lip and told him to, “Come on!”  As we headed toward the front of the house, grabbing keys to the van and my wallet, he asked me through tears, “What are we going to do?  Sugar’s gone!”  I told him that we would find her and everything would be okay. (That’s because I’m a man of great faith and power… or just a Dad who wanted his kid to not worry.)

We hopped in the van and peeled out… okay, not really, but it makes the story sound more exciting, don’t you think? Alex told me which way Sugar went and we took a left out of the driveway.  About a block up the hilly road, we came to our neighbor’s house where we saw PR31 (in her house shoes, mind you) and Austin (our 6-year old) running out of the road and back into our neighbor’s large, wooded yard.  We backed up the van and pulled into the long driveway to catch up to them.  Alex jumped out, and soon they had the escaped Sugar back in their loving arms.  The three of them walked back to the van, Angela laughing at my partially-shaven face with remaining shaving cream, we got back in and drove Sugar back home.

Sure, she got a good scolding.  And she spent some time in her kennel to let her know that this wasn’t her best idea ever.  But she also got a bath (because she was filthy and we had flicked a tick off of her.)  And after a couple hours, she was let out of her kennel.  She ended up back in our laps. We have since given her toys to fetch.  We have give her food and water.  And we even give her a kiss on the head as we say goodnight.

Why? Why would I go to all that trouble to bring back home a dog that chose on its own to run away?  Because, for all of my bravado and sometimes wishing we had a bigger, tougher, more manly dog, we love her.  And it would break my kids’ hearts if she was lost for good.  Truth is, it would make me sad, too.

His Moment

And Alex’s moment of pursuing Sugar to bring her back… which caused me to flash back to my moment of pursuing Pepper to bring her back… reminds me of the story Jesus tells in Luke 15 about a father who ran to his wayward son and how that is like God’s moment of pursuing us to bring us back home to Him.

I once was like Pepper and Sugar.  I was lost, and God came looking for me.  He didn’t care what time it took or how much it cost Him.  He just loved me and wanted me home with Him.  And He when found me, I was dirty.  He had to clean me up, but He did.  He cares for me, feeds me, continues to clean me up, laughs with me, spends time with me and lets me know that I belong with Him.

He loves each person who ever has lived… is living now… and who will ever live.  And He is prepared to search like crazy to bring you home where you belong… with Him.  If you’re away from Him… perk your ears up right now, you might even hear Him hanging his head out the window and hollering your name.  If you’re home with Him… never run away because you’ve got it made here!

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