When I was younger we had a dog named Spot. Spot loved to run and play. As a kid I could not wait to get home from school to play with Spot. I enjoyed throwing his toys and watching him chase them and run off with them trying to play keep away. Because he had four legs to our two he was usually successful at keeping the toy away until he wanted us to throw it again.
Not only did Spot like to run around our back yard he also liked to chase rabbits and birds and other small wild life. We lived next to a major road and we were concerned about Spot darting out into traffic so my dad built a nice pen for Spot. The pen, which was 20' X 20' X 8' was well shaded on three sides by trees, a huge dog box was placed inside. We always made sure Spot had plenty of food and water and it appeared Spot enjoyed his home in our back yard.
One of Spots annoying habits was digging. Spot would dig anywhere and everywhere. Spot would dig around under his pen and no matter how many times we would fill in the hole Spot would just dig another one.
One night Spot dug himself a hole big enough to get out and ran off.
The next morning we were devastated to find Spot no longer in his cage. We searched all over the neighborhood trying to find Spot. We hung posters offering a reward for the safe return of our beloved dog. We knocked on doors and searched through the woods trying to find Spot.
THE LOST SHEEP
Luke 15:3-7 (GW) Jesus spoke to them using this illustration: "Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it? When he finds it, he's happy. He puts that sheep on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, 'Let's celebrate! I've found my lost sheep!' I can guarantee that there will be more happiness in heaven over one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts than over 99 people who already have turned to God and have his approval."
In this parable Jesus indicates how hard the shepherd looked to find the lost sheep. He would appear to have neglected all his other responsibilities in order to find that sheep. Nothing was more important. The 99 were safe in the sheep pen and were not in dire need at the time. However; a sheep left alone in the wild was prey for any and all predators. So he forsook all and sought out after the one lost sheep until it was found.
THE LOST COIN
Luke 15:8-10 (GW) "Suppose a woman has ten coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house, and look for the coin carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Let's celebrate! I've found the coin that I lost.' So I can guarantee that God's angels are happy about one person who turns to God and changes the way he thinks and acts."
In this parable Jesus tells about a woman who lost a valuable coin. When one looses something it becomes the object of one's attention. She was no longer concerned about the money she had not lost but only the one coin she had misplaced. Her search ended in finding the coin. Her joy like the joy of finding the lost sheep was met with joyous celebration. But Jesus said finding a lost soul is far more joyous then finding lost money.
THE LOST SON
Luke 15:11-32 (GW) Then Jesus said, "A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the property.' So the father divided his property between his two sons. "After a few days, the younger son gathered his possessions and left for a country far away from home. There he wasted everything he had on a wild lifestyle. He had nothing left when a severe famine spread throughout that country. He had nothing to live on. 17 "Finally, he came to his senses. He said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more food than they can eat, while I'm starving to death here? 18 I'll go at once to my father, and I'll say to him, "Father, I've sinned against heaven and you. 19 I don't deserve to be called your son anymore. Make me one of your hired men."' 20 "So he went at once to his father. While he was still at a distance, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son, put his arms around him, and kissed him. 22 "The father said to his servants, 'Hurry! Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let's celebrate with a feast. 24 My son was dead and has come back to life. He was lost but has been found.' Then they began to celebrate.
Losing a dog, or a sheep, losing money or a job does not compare to a parent who looses a child. In this final parable Jesus brings into focus the great value of a human life. As devastated as I was when Spot ran away did not even touch the surface of the grief felt by a parent who looses a child. This has got to be the worst feeling in the whole world! A parent will spare no expense, they will neglect food and sleep and even their own livelihood and health in order to search for a lost child.
We have all heard the horror stories in the news of parents who had children kidnapped. Some where reunited with their child to great joy while others received the news their child would never come home again.
No wonder the father threw a party for his lost son because he had returned home alive! That is how strongly God feels about all who are lost out in the world. His eye is ever looking for the first sign of a lost child coming home. He stands at the ready to welcome them back with a loud exuberant celebration.
I do not know what prompted the younger son to want to leave his father's house nor do I know why Spot decided to dig himself out of the safe confines of his pen to run off into the wild. Perhaps like Spot the younger son grew tired of the rules and regulations and the appearance of being caged in and wanted to be free. Perhaps like Spot the younger son thought that life outside of the pen was more appealing than the love and care he received at home.
Could it be that we are a lot like the prodigal son and my dog Spot?
We see life in the Father's house as having too many rules and regulations and not enough good times and parties. We view the Father's commandments as a cage to keep us from having fun rather then seeing them as a fence to keep us safe from evil. Spot was not able to see the dangers that awaited him in the wild anymore than the prodigal son knew of the dangers facing him. Spot just wanted to be free of our backyard and out on his own.
The call of the wild was too much for Spot and too much for the younger son. Eventually the younger son found out that life on the outside was not all it appeared to be. He ended up broken, penniless and alone. He finally could see the value of the care his father had provided for him.
Sometimes we may need to end up face down in the pig pen in order to see how much the Father cares for us but far better it is to realize the goodness of God while we are still safe and sound in the Father's house.
Eventually weeds overgrew the kennel Spot used to stay in and we moved away to a new neighborhood. We never did find out what happened to Spot but we are hopeful he found himself a new family to love him like we did.
Don't you end up like Spot, lost and never to return. Instead if you have left home stop where you are right now and pick yourself up and return with great haste back to the Father's house. He is waiting with outstretched arms and a grand celebration.
We would have thrown a great party had Spot come back home instead we had to throw away his food dish. Do not make the Father erase your name from the Lamb's book of life. COME HOME! STOP RUNNING!
Random ramblings from your resident birdbrain. Waxing eloquent on things that I find interesting along the flight path. Spreading bird droppings along your spiritual pathways.
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