You might think it’s corny-or crazy-but I pray about what to write each week. When I started writing Family Life over 20 years ago, I hoped it would be a break from regular news. That it would be a blessing and you would be encouraged and sometimes tickled. (I still pray that.)
Over the years, I’ve written about being a wife and mother, my kids going to kindergarten, high school, proms and college…re-joining the workforce after a decade at home, my husband being a minister, loss of loved ones, pantyhose, commodes, teaching preschoolers and inmates, burnt cakes, plus a host of other goofy things. The Lord shows me stuff and speaks to me through the strangest and sometimes simplest things.
I try to hit the holidays, so this week I hoped to share something about Memorial Day or “remembering”. It didn’t work out that way. What I have is a story of a woman, a dog and God.
She took the dog in during the winter.
Her children are grown; they live away. She already had a couple of cats that stayed inside, and that was plenty. But she kept going back to the door to see if the black and white dog was out there. There was no collar, so probably no owner. One day after work, she filled dog bowls and put them on the porch. She picked up one of those dog beds that are all cushy-just in case, and even bought a dog collar.
The dog became a regular at her house. They had a routine. Each evening, the woman filled the bowls and the dog ate. They were becoming friends. In fact, the woman gave her a name, “Lady”. She spoke to her every day as she ate her dog food. This was going well.
Then a big snow came. The woman could not go to work because of the roads. In fact, the governor had told everyone to stay home. The weatherman was telling all pet owners to bring in their pets. She shook her head as she went to the door. It was time to bring “Lady” in.
Lady and the woman loved the new arrangement. They were so much company for each other! I didn’t talk to the cats, but expect they were tolerating each other, as well.
The snow melted, time passed. With the arrival of spring, Lady began spending more time outside. Several weeks ago, she never came home. If this were MY story, it would now say, “The End”. But not this dear woman’s.
She began looking for Lady and asking around about her. No one had seen her. I’m pretty sure she asked on Facebook if anyone had seen the dog because she got reports all the time.
She called the animal shelters, with no luck. This week, because he knew his mother was concerned, her son drove from his home in Huntington to Pikeville’s Animal Shelter to look with his own eyes. (Sometimes it’s hard to describe a dog over the phone.) Lady wasn’t there.
For the rest of the evening, they rode up and down the hollows and backroads searching for Lady. “You probably think I’m crazy,” she told me on the phone. But I didn’t. I was all choked up.
I have a great imagination so I was picturing the whole thing in my head as I listened. It sounded exactly like how God pursues us. He longs to be with us, to spend time with us, but so often, we go off on our own, down strange paths that take us so far from home! “No, I don’t even for a second think you’re crazy,“ I encouraged. “It sounds like what God does!” I finished with a few tears.
It made me think of a story I heard a long time ago. A number of years ago in a small town in Spain, there was a young man named Juan. Juan was wild and rebellious. His father’s attempts to correct him had failed. At one point Juan stole a large sum of money from his father and ran away from home. Month after month there was no word of him. The father loved his son and longed for him to come home. When he heard that someone had seen Juan in the city, he went to search for him. The father drove up and down the streets, showed Juan’s picture to strangers, and checked in bars, but to no avail. Finding his son in such a large city was surely an impossible task.
Finally, an idea struck him. He took out an ad in the local paper. It said, “Juan, all is forgiven. How I long to see you again. Please meet me on Saturday at noon on the steps of city hall. Love, Dad”
When Saturday came and the father went to the appointed place, he found, along with his son, more than a hundred other boys named Juan sitting on the steps of city hall.
That’s what God is saying to each one of us… “All is forgiven. I long to be with you. I love you…” (Author Unknown)
Maybe this IS for Memorial Day…about “remembering” how much God loves us!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.