It had been a long day and there were still quite a few loose ends to tie up when my wife called. I answered, and she immediately began, in an almost frantic voice, to tell me “you will not believe this, I just got home and there is a dog in the garage that looks like Barney!! Do you think it could be him, it looks like him, I’ll send you a picture!” Sure enough, it was Barney! Our English setter, six years old now, had been missing for two and a half years.
We had given up hope of ever seeing Barney again. The excitement overwhelmed me and I immediately made a b-line for the house, forgetting all of those “to-do’s” that had previously seemed so important. In the few minutes it took to drive home I began calling my friends that knew Barney to spread the good news. Everyone was excited. I even posted a pic of him on Facebook and it seemed to go viral! Everyone was touched by Barney’s return.
I began to think, if I was this excited to see my dog who had gone astray, how much more would I celebrate the return of my own wayward child? Then it dawned on me that the celebrations of a returning wanderer here on earth must absolutely pale in comparison to the celebration that happens in heaven when one of God’s children return from wandering in a foreign land.
The following Saturday was our bi-annual chicken BBQ at Five Points Volunteer Fire Dept. By the time the crowds began flowing in I had several inquisitions about Barney. I felt that God had presented an opportunity to share the message of his never-failing, unconditional love. Many conversations turned to Barney’s story that morning. A couple of trustees who were helping cook seemed especially open to the message hidden beneath.
I have no idea what difference this story of a prodigal dog may have in the eternal lives of the people who hear it, but I know that God allows His story to be told through it. Isaiah 55:11 says “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”. I do know that “all things work for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.
I hope this little story reminds us that God is always on the move, he is always working things for his glory, that we need to keep our eyes open for the opportunities He presents to us, and be willing to take those opportunities when we see them.