Some of you who follow me on social media may already be aware of the interesting event that I found my self in on Friday. A day that was to be one filled with the joy of celebrating a friend’s debut in the Divergent film (small un-credited role), became a day filled with shortness of breath, tense stares, flashlights, and muddy pant legs.
While house/pet sitting for a friend, who was out-of-town on a mini-vacation, I received a phone call that changed my weekend. “Have you seen Atticus?” Well, Atticus is the name of the cat. The cat that I had forgotten lived there, with the two dogs who were number 1 and 2 foci. My heart dropped. I actually remembered seeing the little guy, but it was for a moment and I didn’t recall when that was. Was it the night before as I nonchalantly released the hounds to roam the yard and do their business? Or was it in the morning when I opened the door and then walked to the bowls to fill them with food? YIKES! Each time I operated with little to no concern over whether or not this cat was getting out.
#PetSittingFail: So it would turn out that Atticus, the Houdini of cats, escaped and had been on the prowl most likely all night. The search began in the afternoon. It would continue in waves as friends and family all converged on the neighborhood trying to locate this darling friendly beast, I lovingly dubbed “Fatticus” years back, in response to his amazing weight. However, none of that was funny now as we trudged through the marsh of a golf course across the street. However, attracting glances in the middle of the night as we walked the streets with flashlights pointed in yards, as though we were casing the neighborhood, was my favorite part. Black man…all white neighborhood…9 p.m. with flashlight pointed in the yard. Stories like that usually don’t end well. After that thought escaped me for a moment, I enjoyed a flash of revelation. I wonder if this is at all similar to God’s heart for us, his children. We all at one point have been that lost cat out in the cold of night, run away from the presence of God, the place of safety and loose in the world seeking our desires.
I am reminded of Luke 15 and the stories of the shepherd searching for the one lost sheep, or the woman seeking out the lost coin. What if God quit seeking me out when I had been far away and gone for one too many nights? I don’t deserve to be safely resting in His arms in the way that I get to enjoy on a daily basis. However, because His love is never-ending, because His mercy endures forever, because He never ends His rescue efforts, here I am. I imagine many of you reading this could say the same.

Well, this story ended well, where Atticus was recovered in the backyard of a neighbor about a block away. But I recognize there are some reading this now whose stories of lostness have yet to end. I know that there are some of you that have loved ones who are also lost and living far from God. I am praying with you for their return, for their restoration to the family. I want to encourage you that there is hope, and want to urge you to not give up. Keep the flashlight firmly in your hand and keep the search alive. Jesus desires to seek and save. He can use you. Stay on watch and be found patiently awaiting God’s urging for your next move.
Be encouraged, be diligent, be alert. But rest assured, as much as you hurt for their return, God hurts more. After all they are His children, His sheep of the flock and He is always the good father, and perfect shepherd.