“I want to hear the story about you following the dog when you were little.”
It’s story time and once again one of the grandkids want to hear about one of my misadventures when I was about their age. To tell the truth, I don’t think I actually remember it. But I was told the story so many time by my parents growing up that it has become a memory. The story go like this.
I was around three years old. It was a late Saturday afternoon back down on the farm in Clement. Momma was in the kitchen cooking, while Daddy was out at the barn working. Momma thought I was out at the barn with Daddy. Daddy thought I was in the house with Momma. I was neither. I was out taking a walk with the dog.
After awhile, Momma went out to check on Daddy and me. That’s when they realized that I wasn’t around. After the “I thought he was he was with you,” they started the search. They checked out the house, the yard and all around the barns. Daddy’s cousin, Jimmy, was there and joined the search. No sign of Mac. They were starting to get worried. They yelled for me, but no response. They looked even more. Still no sign of the boy. They were really starting to get worried. (I can still remember Momma telling this story. By this point, she was getting pretty upset.)
What about little three year old Mac? I was still out there, taking my stroll with the family dog. Just wandering on, not paying attention, and getting further and further away from home. And it’s starting to get dark.
As the search became more frantic, they started looking out in the fields and the woods surrounding the house. Then they noticed way over on the far side of the field, a little blond head disappearing over the hillside. (Yes, in those days I did have hair.) I was following the dog and was heading into the woods. Daddy and Jimmy hopped into the truck and sped down to the end of the field to get me. To teach me a lesson, he made me walk with him back home. (I can still remember Momma saying, “L.F. made the poor little fellow walk all the way back to the house. Mac was so tired he fell asleep that night at the supper table.)
The grandkids really love that story. I think it’s because I was about their age and got into trouble, just like they do sometimes. When telling the story, I always try to make a point to them that sometimes you can get into trouble by not paying attention and not being where you are supposed to be. In other words, you can get into trouble by wandering. And that doesn’t just apply to little three year old kids.
How did I get here? How did I get into this mess? I never planned on being in this situation. Recently in this newspaper, there have been many mug shots of people who have been arrested in Operation Double Tap drug investigation by the local law authorities. Probably some of those now facing charges are asking the same above questions. But you don’t have to have your face on page one of the newspaper to wonder that. Or to wander.
The classic hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” was written in 1757 by Robert Robinson. In its lyrics are a couple of lines in which Robinson describes a tendency that, if we admit it, is found in all of us. He wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
We are prone to wander, and sometimes do. Like the three year old Mac many years ago, the wandering may have started up innocently, just following the dog. (Whatever that dog may be.) And like that little boy, the result can end up being in a dark, lonely and scary place. But the result for me back then was not tragedy, but a lesson learned. Why, because someone was looking for me.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd who hunts high and low for the one lost sheep that has wandered away from the fold. When he finds it, he throws the little sheep over his shoulders, and happily carries it back home.
You may not currently be in that dark, lonely and scary place. You may not have wandered that far. But you are drifting in that direction. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. The good news is the Shepherd is calling you, directing you back home. But you may have wandered so far that you are way over the hill, and now are deep in that dark, lonely and scary place. The Shepherd hasn’t forgotten you. He’s looking for you, to bring you home. And if need be, He’ll carry you all the way back home to safety. If you will let Him.