“Mom, are you still looking for Yuki?”
I can’t help it. Even though my cat of fifteen years has been gone for nearly a week I keep hoping that she will come home. In every room of the house I find myself looking out the windows, pressing my face against the screen so I can scan the whole length of the backyard or look down the street. As I listen to the kids chatter at dinner I look out the window and search for kitty movement around the edges of the nearby untamed “park” where coyotes prowl at night. After a brief “Hey, don’t call the cops on me because after sundown tonight I’ll be walking around the edges of your property with a flash light looking under bushes and decks and sheds calling “here kitty kitty” if that’s okay with you” with my neighbors, I did exactly that. I’m still checking the shelter hotlines, posting “Lost Cat” pictures on Craigslist and getting the word out to my neighbors. My friends sympathize and listen. They know that it’s nearly hopeless. My head knows that too. But I still can’t stop looking out the windows.
As with all trials and challenges in this life, there are lessons. And opportunities to know God more deeply. That reality found me as my seven-year-old and I colored a picture of the prodigal son. She told me that the son took his money and spent it on parties and clothes, but finally ran out of money and ended up eating pig food. Then he went home to ask if he might be one of his father’s servants.
I found myself identifying with the father in the story. While the son was away, never knowing if he was alive or dead, his father was searching the horizon- longing to see a figure with the stature and gait of his lost son. While the father vigilantly watched and waited against all hope, his friends likely shook their heads and muttered, “Poor man. His boy is never coming home.” But the father couldn’t NOT look, his love of his son was so great.
People do crazy things when something they treasure is lost. A shepherd has been known to leave ninety nine of his sheep to go find the one that has strayed. And if he finds that lost sheep, there is such joy over that one animal, even if it is so scarred and bruised that the shepherd must carry it home on his shoulders.
Or the woman who has misplaced a one-of-a-kind precious coin. How she will upend her home- turn the lights on in every room, sweep every corner, clean every closet, until at last she finds her that lost treasure. And oh, the rejoicing! All the lost sleep and searching and toil was worth it. Because there has never been another coin like this one.
These are the pictures that God gives us in Luke 15 of His relentless love for us. These are the stories that Jesus tells to illustrate how precious you are to Him. Friend, you are the one-of-a-kind coin that God has gone to great lengths to search out and find. You are the sheep that was worth leaving heaven over. However bruised, dirtied and disillusioned this world has left you, Christ is the Shepherd who will lift you onto His mighty shoulders to carry you to healing and safety. He is the Father, never giving up hope that you will come home to the One who won’t discard you when you are out of money and party tricks. His love for you has driven Him to do outrageous things, namely, humbling Himself to take on the nature of a servant and choosing the cross of our redemption.
Angels, demons and the Enemy himself must have been baffled. They can’t understand God’s relentless love for us.
Over time, my human pursuit for Yuki will fade. Life will bring new joys and challenges and displace this current fixation. And I will move on. But for now I get a glimpse of God’s unyielding love. A love that is different from mine because it doesn’t waver with time and isn’t crowded out by new distractions. God’s love is an eternal consuming fire that can never be extinguished.
God is seeking you. He is watching for you. He is searching. And His love for you will never allow Him to rest.