1 Peter 2: 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd…”
Luke 14v:10 “I… tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”
Our dear old dog, Rufus, is fourteen years of age. He has cataracts and his hearing is not as sharp as it once was. He is also in the early stages of doggy dementia. He is otherwise healthy and continues to enjoy life. He loves his daily walk, although we have noticed that he no longer strays far from us. Whether due to his poor hearing or declining mental faculties he does not respond so quickly to oral commands.
Take him into woodland, however, and he seems to revert to his youth. Apparently the sense of smell is the last sense to leave a dying person; Rufus’ sense of smell remains as acute as ever. Which is why, this morning, walking in the nearby woods, he picked up the scent of a badger or deer and was off the path away into the undergrowth.
He was gone for several minutes. Although in the past he has been known to disappear for as long as twenty minutes, this morning I was concerned; with his poor eyesight and poor hearing, would he find his way back to me. Would he continue along the track to the road, in which case, would an increasing lack of awareness cause him to run in front of an approaching car? I stood and called; probably only five minutes yet it seemed like an eternity.
Such relief when I spotted him, ears pricked, picking his way through the shrubbery back onto the track. I crouched down to his level and opened my arms wide. To have scolded him for running off would have been wrong; he had, after all, only followed his doggy instincts. The fact of his, in dog years, considerable age and the knowledge that he had run off before in pursuit of an enticing scent did not lessen the relief I felt at his return.
All this led me to reflect on how relieved God has felt on the several occasions that I have returned to him after straying from his path and how the anguish I have caused him while I have been away following my sinful human instincts; how there have been no recriminations when I returned to his fold, simply joy, and the holding out of his welcoming arms.