Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parable of the Lost...Dog?

"What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray,"--Jesus, Matthew 18:12-13

I have to interrupt the women series to post about this while it is fresh in my mind. Since yesterday morning, all I have done is cry my eyes out, pray, agonize and drive around looking for my runaway dog. I periodically checked in on blog world to get my mind off of it.

This is me and Aravis, at a much skinnier time in both our lives. :)

It all started yesterday morning. I awoke to find one of our outside dogs, Aravis, missing from the yard. She dug her way out of the fence. I went out front and saw her hobbling down the road back towards our house. She had a huge gash on her left front paw and could barely walk on it. I immediately called the vet, which is about 4 or 5 miles away, to set up a time to bring her in.

When we got there, I lifted her out of the car and as I carried her up to the vet's office, she panicked, flipped out of arms, and took off with her leash still attached! She ran directly into oncoming traffic. A truck almost hit her, but swerved at the last second. She ran across the street, through a parking lot, down a long, STEEP, ravine and disappeared into the field of high grass. Only more busy roads surrounded the field. She was gone.

Those of you who know me already know at this point that I was devastated. We have ten dogs (two inside dogs and eight outside dogs) and we love them like people. My husband and I often say that dogs are God's best creation. I drove around in circles for hours calling her name, crying, hitting my steering wheel, and dropping a few expletives. I did not spot her once. I went home defeated, convinced I'd never find her again alive. My worst fear was finding her hit on the side of the road.

I woke up this morning to VIOLENT thunder and lightening. All I could think about was my poor, scared, wounded dog trying to fend for herself out there with no way to come home. As soon as the storm let up, I started driving around again. My voice was hoarse from calling her name.

As I was driving, I started to get really angry. These kind of things tend to happen to me A LOT, so much so that I've started to expect the worst in these kind of situations. After hours of searching, I was "talking" to God, okay, yelling at God, recounting all the worry, anxiety, desperation, and fervor of the past twenty-four hours, expressing how the thought of giving up or finding her dead was almost unbearable. The prayer was laced with a "it's not fair," attitude. In the middle of my rant, within in the deepest part of me, I felt God say, "Imagine how I've searched for you." Ouch. I nearly drove off the road. I pulled over and just wept over my steering wheel. How many times have I wandered off? I realized that I am a lot like my dog. She really loves us, but is ruled by fear. She's always cowering until she's sure she's not in trouble. She kind of expects the worst. Sound familiar? I started thinking about the mind-blowing notion of God searching for me and still searching for all of me. Just then, I heard a faint yelp. I got out of my car and yelled for Aravis. I did this for a half hour before finally giving up. I got back in my car and started to turn around. Just before driving off, I saw her standing in the middle of a field about a quarter of a mile away. I jumped out of my car and called her to come. She stood there looking at me for a moment. I couldn't believe it! I thanked God over and over again out loud. But then Aravis ran off again and I imeediately switched to dropping the F-bomb in frustration. Thanking God in one breath, dropping the F-bomb in the other....OY.

Anyway, I had to run after her through a FLOODED field. I got mud up to my knees and she was no where in sight... again. I finally heard some rustling in the thicket and she poked her head out. I called her in my nicest voice, since I knew she wanted to come to me, but was also scared (another familiar spiritual problem). It didn't matter. No matter how nice sounding my voice was, she wouldn't come close enough. Finally, I decided to lay prostrate on the ground, in the mud (Dog people know that this is a way to communicate a non-threatening demeanor). So I laid there for a few moments and she cautiously circled around me, and finally collapsed on top of me, digging her head into me, shaking and wimpering.

As I sat there hugging my wet, muddy, wounded, fearful, nutbag of a dog, I realized how happy I was to have found her. I wasn't angry with her, I felt compassion for her. I didn't care that I was covered in mud from head to toe or how filthy she was, I just wanted to take care of her. And I wondered if this is how God feels when we finally surrender and come close enough to Him to be found? I wondered how often God is searching for me and I don't even know it? I wondered how often God is reaching out to me and I'm too wrapped up in my own baggage and fear to realize it? There are parts of myself that still cower and run from God's extended embrace because of fear. But today the reality of how far God goes to find us, how far He was willing to wade through the muck and mire of human filthiness, just came to life. The parable of the lost sheep came alive through my own parable of my lost dog.


Tonya said...

Tia, this is a wonderful parable! I totally teared up while I was laughing at the mental picture of you lying in the mud waiting for your 10th dog to come out of the bushes.

I was doing the Maura. What is it you call it?

I'm glad you found your crazy dog:).

Tia Lynn said...

It's called "The Laugh-Cry Combo." :)

Yes, she is currently relaxing in my garden tub with blankets. I keep going in there and hugging her. It's good to have my prodigal dog home. :)

musicmommy3 said...

OK that was the most AWESOME modern day parable ever!!

I'm really glad that you found your doggie. :)

April said...

Great parable. And you being prostrate on the ground is such a powerful reminder of Christ being prostrate on the cross.

It's still sometimes hard to come, though, isn't it?

donnav said...

I knew I liked you...now you give me a new reason why! These pets of ours sure give our hearts a work out don't they? I'm SO glad you found your dog and I love how God spoke to you in the midst of the anguish...thanks for sharing this with us!!

Carlos said...

Tia, when I read your last post about Aramis it definitely was a sacred moment… where I needed to take my shoes off, for the presence of the Spirit surely was there and it touched me….

I promised I’d comment on the gender post and had an elaborate draft in my mind, however I would not do justice to Miroslav Volfe’s, a brilliant Croatian Theologian at Yale, chapter 5 on Gender Identity in his book Exclusion and Embrace, but permit me to quote just this “..the content of gender identity is rooted in the sexed body (as the cartoon portrays) and negotiated in the social exchange between men and women within a given cultural content, and secondly, that the portrayals of God in no way provide models of what it means to be male or female”. He suggests, instead, “that the relations between the Trinitarian persons serve as a model for how the content of “masculinity” and “femininity” ought to be negotiated in the social process”. I offer this quote in hopes that it would wet the appetite and the whole chapter, book would be read.

Tia, even though Journalism would probably pay more, you should consider preaching, for God has definitely gifted you …and I have a question to your friends that disagree with your position…when you do have a pulpit, and I foresee it coming, would they sit under your teaching/preaching….I would venture a guess that based on where they are at present, sadly they would not…..

Keep going forth as Queen Esther did…..

Michelle said...

oh Tia, as one who would #1) for sure lay prostrate in the mud for my dog, and #2) who is tearing up just imagining the ways my God has come after me... I'll just say "wow". Give Aravis a hug for me!

thank you!

Anonymous said...

I lived this story with you about Aravis(whom I was sure was history) but don't ya know, I succumbed to the laugh-cry combo:) How beautiful it is to be reminded of His great love for us. This is my favorite blog of yours so far. Love you, Maura

Tilly Hester said...

What's the F-bomb?

Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

Christy Fritz said...

wow...your a totally dedicated dog owner.:)
thank you so much for sharing. one of my favorite posts as well.

Terry said...

Tia Lynn, what a beautiful post! It was so touching and heartfelt. And I am SO happy that you found your doggie!

tilly hester said...

It dawned on me what the F-bomb is...no need for further explanation! That's a funny way to put it!

singlemomforgod said...

okay Tia, I must admit that I read you through Terry's blog and it has taken me a minute to digest some of your posts, ( they are still good though, just different for my thinking palet) this post had me snotting and sniffing and wanting to open my mind and my heart to more of your intriguing posts. Terry's open-mindedness is rubbing off on me! Be blessed and stay encouraged!

Tia Lynn said...

Why thanks. That means alot to me. And feel free to pipe in with differing views. They are always appreciated. :)