Meet Adi’s older brother Graham. While Adi is glossy black like their father, Graham has the yellow hues of their mother. He’s a friendly fellow who on more than one occasion has taken on the title of “runaway.” Graham’s decision to wander from his established boundaries is puzzling, as he has so many reasons to stay. Home for Graham includes:
A large fenced in back yard in which to play.
A family of Labradors with whom to share life.
Plenty of food.
The care of human hands who understand all things Lab.
So what prompts a dog to leave the safety of his home, the comradery of his playmates, the promise of food, and the love of his owner?
Is it the call of a nearby river appealing to his Labrador love of swimming?
Has the spring weather poured vitality and puppy-like impulses into his aging body?
Only Graham knows the answer.
Unfortunately, Graham’s limited doggie view hinders his ability to see the dangers that lurk beyond the safety of his home. Animal attacks, traffic, hunger . . .
Fortunately, Graham has an owner who readily pursues his wayward Lab. After one of his escapades, Graham was described as a muddy, wet, labby mess who really didn’t care to look his owner in the eye on the car ride home.
Truth be told, I see a part of myself in Graham.
In the past, I’ve made the decision to wander from the safety of my Good Shepherd’s fold. Like Graham, I had no good reason to venture off. Psalms 23 clearly paints a picture of my home with Jesus. With the Good Shepherd, I had no want. He gave me green pastures in which to eat and rest, quiet waters in which to drink, and His companionship and guidance. Even when I walked through dangerous places, I had no evil to fear for He protected and comforted me. His goodness and love followed me each day.
So why would I wander off?
My answer. A bent toward prideful self-sufficiency, the world’s allusion of happiness, the draw of great academic and athletic achievements, the lure of career success . . .
Thank goodness my Savior, like Graham’s owner, pursued me. When I finally stopped wandering, Jesus found me in a condition not much different than Graham’s. I was caked in a layer of the world’s muddied version of truth and drenched with tears of loneliness, regret, and despair.
Jesus didn’t leave me in that state. He collected me, listened to my repentant heart, cleaned me up with His forgiveness and grace, and took me back home to His flock.
And now as I walk my life once again with Jesus, I often find my heart echoing the lyrics written by a young pastor in 18th century England:
Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above.”-Come Thou Fount, 1758*
Maybe you find yourself wandering like Graham. If so, I encourage you to stop where you’re at and turn toward the Good Shepherd. He’s seeking you. Listen, He’s calling you by name.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. . . ” –Ezekiel 34: 11, 16
“So Jesus told them this parable:
‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost, [searching] until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he gets home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” – Luke 15: 3-7, Amplified
*Robinson, Robert. (1758). “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” [Lyrics].
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