A couple of weekends ago, my fiancé and I went through quite the ordeal. On top of a husband, Jess also gets my dog and two cats when we’re married. She also brings a dog into the equation. Our family will be made up of us and four entitled and spoiled animals. We both love all our pets an insane amount. Part of the reason behind that is because we both went through a divorce right at the beginning of the pandemic. That caused us to spend a lot of time home alone with our four-legged friends. You grow quite attached to what helps get you through the hardest time of your life.
That Saturday was going to be a big day; it was the first time that our parents were meeting. They were all coming over to my house for a little cookout and get-together. That morning, I let my cats out as I was putting the finishing touches on cleaning the house. After all, you must make it look like your house is unoccupied whenever someone comes over— especially when it’s your parents and future in-laws. My cats spend a lot of time outside, so I didn’t think much about sending them into the wilderness that morning.
The last thing that I needed to do before company arrived was to walk Samson, my dog. Normally, I make sure that my youngest cat, Izzy, is back inside before I make the lap around my neighborhood (that’s him in the picture) . If I don’t, he will follow my Samson and me as we walk. Ralph, my other cat, has no intention of doing anything that resembles exercise. As Samson and I stepped out into the street, the cats were nowhere to be found. I decided that they must have been occupied doing cat things and proceeded with the walk. After about a tenth of a mile, Izzy appeared, hot on our trail. I thought that it would be fine because I didn’t have time to take him back to the house and do the walk before people arrived.
We were almost finished with the lap when I looked back at Izzy trailing us and realized that he had his eyes fixated on something. I yelled for him to come to me. He looked at me for about five seconds and then took off after whatever it was that he saw. I decided to finish the walk and assumed that he would find his way back home. As much as he’s out and about, he knows the area pretty well. This happened around 11:30 AM.
Our parents arrived, and our shindig went well. We ate, laughed, and all enjoyed being out on the deck together. Every so often during the cookout, I would yell and whistle for Izzy to come home. It’s not like him to be gone for very long. He rarely ventures far away from home and his food, which is his chief motivator. He never showed up. Jess and I started to get worried. The party ended, and our parents went home. Izzy still hadn’t come back. It was now around 4:30 PM; far longer than he had ever been gone before.
Jess and I went looking for him multiple times over the next few hours. We walked around the neighborhood and nearby woods yelling for him. At one point, we took his container of treats to shake in hopes of drawing him out. Getting treats is his main passion in life but still no sign of him. It was starting to get dark now, and our thoughts were following suit. We feared where he might be or what may have happened to him. We got in the car and drove around the neighborhood and nearby highway, dreading that we may find him hurt or worse. It was now 10 PM and still no sight of him. We were heartbroken.
The house was filled with sadness as we sat there. I decided to make us some coffee to try to lift our demoralized spirits because evening coffee is one of our favorite things. Before I headed upstairs to do that, I went outside and tried one more time to get my little buddy to come home. Again, nothing. As the coffee was percolating, I went out the front door to shout for Izzy, even though I had just done that a few minutes before. The result was the same. I started thinking about how I had raised him from a kitten, but now, I may never see him again. I love all my animals, but Izzy and I had a special bond. He follows me everywhere. As Jess put it, “He’s your shadow.” I was Peter Pan; I had lost my shadow.
I turned around, downtrodden, and started to open the door to go back inside. Something overcame me to try again. I took my hand off the doorknob and, as I turned around, there was Izzy running to me! I grabbed him into my arms and embraced him. Then, I went inside and ran down the steps to show Jess. She gasped when she saw him in my arms. We rejoiced! We were overcome with joy. He was lost, but now, he was found. We didn’t care where he had been; he was now home. That’s all that mattered.
Luke 15 has three parables, and they’re all about roughly the same thing. It’s the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. All three illustrate that there is great rejoicing whenever something that is lost becomes found. Jesus told these stories to explain to us how God feels when we come back home, back to him.
We all get lost from time to time. For whatever reason, we decide to stray away from God. It can be because we’ve sinned and try to hide from him, or life has beaten us down so much that we’re struggling with our faith. Maybe, you’ve just become too busy and slowly drifted away without realizing it. For many, it’s because you’ve never heard the good news that your Heavenly Father loves you like crazy, so you’ve never felt compelled to be by his side in the first place. Whatever the reason, we all will find ourselves in the spiritual wilderness at some point.
Here’s the thing that Jesus wanted to let you know through the parables in Luke 15: you may be lost, but there is a search party going on to find you. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are constantly calling for you to come home. They’re desperate for you to walk through that door and be embraced. They don’t care where you’ve been or what you have gotten into; all that they care about is you.
In each of the parables, there is rejoicing when a sinner, someone who is lost, comes home. Read the words that Jesus spoke in Luke 15 about what happens when we return to the Father. Verse 7 says that there will be “joy in Heaven.” Verse 10 tells us, “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels.” Lastly, verse 24 says that the Father will ‘celebrate’ when we return. That’s what awaits you, not judgment and damnation. Love, joy, and celebration.
I love my cat, but that love doesn’t scratch the surface of God’s love for you. It’s almost farcical to compare the two. All three of those parables were told so that we can know that we need to come home, back into the loving presence of God. He’s going to scoop you up in his arms and welcome you. Yes, we should repent (ask for forgiveness) for straying from him. The good news is that there is always forgiveness to be found in the Father’s arms. It is his very nature.
Friends, whether it’s the first time that you’ve strayed or the millionth, come home. Even if you’ve never experienced God love and forgiveness, he is there waiting for you and calling your name. Christ died and rose on the third day so that we can have the freedom of entering into a true relationship with the Father. It doesn’t matter what your mistakes and sins have been; Christ has died for all of them. He’s calling out to you with one, repeated refrain, “My beloved child, come home!”
If you liked this, then I think that you’ll enjoy my book. You can buy it by going here. Also, I have started a His Kingdom/ Our Good podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, and Anchor.