This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Grandma’s Beloved Chihuahua
Although I have never lost a sheep, I do know what it is like to lose a beloved pet. When I first started serving at my current church, my grandmother lived with me in the parsonage. My grandmother had a little brown Chihuahua who she loved very much named Chloe.
I have a dog of my own. Her name is Tinkerbell and she is one of my best friends. Tinkerbell and I spend a great deal of time together. She curls up and sleeps next to me as I sit and write my sermons. Tinkerbell has some of the best ideas!
I often teased Grandma that Chloe wasn’t particularly smart. In the parsonage we have a large sliding glass door that leads out onto the patio. I saw Chloe run into that glass door on numerous occasions. No matter how many times Chloe bumped into that door, she just couldn’t seem to understand that there was a pane of glass separating her from the outside world.
(For comparison, Tinkerbell has never run into that sliding glass door. Not once.)
Where Is Chloe?
One day, Chloe went missing. As Grandma and I were sitting down to dinner, Grandma looked at me and asked, “Have you seen Chloe?”
“No,” I answered. “I haven’t seen her.”
Grandma and I searched all over the parsonage. We looked behind all the furniture, searched the basement, and we even checked in the garage. Chloe was nowhere to be found!
“She’s not in the house,” said Grandma. “She must have slipped outside when you came back from your run! She’s so small- she probably sneaked right out the door!”
As much as I teased Grandma, I knew that Chloe was very special to her. I could tell that she was distraught. I felt terrible.
“Don’t worry,” I told Grandma. “We will find Chloe.”
The Search for Chloe
Frantically, I called Jeff, who was my fiancé at the time (we were married and 2017). He immediately dropped what he was doing and came to help Grandma and I search for Chloe. The three of us walked up and down the streets of our neighborhood calling, “Chloe! Chloe! Where are you, Chloe?”
Finally, it began to grow dark and we had to discontinue our search.
As we entered the parsonage once more, Grandma was so upset that she started to cry.
“Now, now,” said my Jeff. “Let’s just all calm down and think about this. We can call the ASPCA and report that she is missing. I will also help you both search tomorrow morning as soon as it is light.”
Then, he went into the living room. “Come on,” he said, “Let’s just all sit down and- what’s this on the couch?”
Jeff had been about to sit down on the couch in the living room when he noticed a strange lump underneath a blanket. He removed the blanket from the couch and found Chloe lying perfectly still.
We Found Chloe!
For a moment, Jeff’s breath caught in his throat. Chloe was so still that he was afraid that she had gone to doggy heaven.
Then Chloe opened her eyes. She jumped up and began wagging her tail!
“I found Chloe!” said Jeff. “She really scared me for a second!”
“Chloe!” Grandma cried as she scooped the little dog into her arms, “My baby! I’m so happy that we found you!”
A Reflection of Joy
At first, I was angry.
“Has Chloe been in the house this entire time?” I asked with frustration. “Didn’t she hear us calling for her? I knew she wasn’t very smart! Why didn’t she know enough to come when we called for her?”
Then, I saw how happy Grandma was that she and Chloe were reunited. When I saw the joy on Grandma’s face, I couldn’t be angry any longer. She was incandescent with happiness. In that moment, I saw that her joy at discovering Chloe was a reflection of how our Heavenly Father most rejoice when one of us finds our way back to God’s loving embrace.
Rejoicing in Heaven
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus tells us that there will be rejoicing in heaven over a single lamb that has returned to the fold.
We are all lost sometimes. For many of us, there will be times in our lives when we wander far from home; however, we do not need to physically wander in order to be lost. Some of us will discover in our own lives that, like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son, we can become spiritually lost while remaining physically safe at home.
I don’t know what it is like to lose a sheep-
But I do know what it is like to lose a Chihuahua.
I also know that, no matter how lost we are, God is looking for us with even more fervor than my Grandmother looked for her beloved Chloe. When we find our way home at long last, I know that there is much rejoicing in Heaven.
Prayer of the Sheep
All of us go astray sometimes.
When we wander, please help us find our way home.
We know that we do not need to physically wander in order to be lost. We give thanks that you are constantly seeking us.
We pray this day especially for all of those who feel lost and alone. We humbly ask that you would help us to open our hearts to receive your comfort and your grace. Amen.
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!