It amuses me what God sometimes uses to teach us lessons. Lately, it seems my four cats (and others in my life) have been the source of a few biblical truths.
You’re Always Welcome At Home
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Jack is a young orange tabby who belongs to my sister. He is a sweet, energetic young cat with unquenchable curiosity and superior hunting skills. Here in Florida, many of us have a lanai – a large, screened area of our backyard, often enclosing a swimming pool. This is Jack’s favorite hangout. Mostly because of the lizards. Jack loves hunting lizards. My sister finds them in her house on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re dead – other times, not so much. Jack doesn’t care if he actually kills the lizard. It’s all about the hunt. He loves being outside so much that she installed a “kitty door” so he can go in and out as he wishes, safe inside the screened lanai.
My sister’s previous home did not have a lanai, only a small screened porch. Jack was terribly curious about the great outdoors, and would make an effort to scoot out the door every time one was opened. Usually we were very cautious and managed to keep him indoors. One night, however, he slipped past and escaped through the open garage door.
I drove the hour to her house. We spent hours looking for that cat. My sister walked for miles, calling him, looking under bushes and cars, winding behind homes. We drove all around her neighborhood, and after dark, drove around more. At two a.m., we finally decided to try to get some sleep. She was consumed with worry about him. We made posters to put up the next morning, and fell into bed about three a.m.
At six-thirty the next morning, she woke me. Bleary-eyed, I stared at what she held in her arms – little Jack, purring away. She was so happy he was home, snuggling him and petting him. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t quite as forgiving. I was still annoyed at having to drop everything and drive an hour to her house, then spent hours looking for the little bugger. She, however, was only focused on the fact that he was home safe. Jack was no worse for the wear, and after a good meal, crashed on the screened porch for a nap.
Sometimes we all have a desire to wander off, to go looking for something more, to see if there’s anything bigger or better out there, much like the prodigal son in the book of Luke. We wander away from God in search of worldly things. Often, it’s not even intentional. We just look up and suddenly realize we’ve wandered quite a distance from God. Things that far away aren’t nearly as good as we thought they might be. Sometimes we wonder if God would even take us back.
But here’s the good news. Just like my sister welcomed Jack, the father’s reception of his son is a picture of God’s love for us. He took his son, who had been lost but was now found, in his arms and hugged him. Then proceeded to have a party. God delights in our return to Him, too. He desires nothing more than for His children to come to Him, to be in His presence. Job 22:23 promises that if we return to the Almighty, we will be restored. Hosea 6:1 promises that if we return, we will be healed. And James 4:8 declares that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
If you’ve suddenly looked up and found yourself feeling far from God, all you have to do is turn around. He is already filled with compassion for you. If you let Him, like the prodigal’s father, He will run to you and welcome you back. And heaven will throw a party.
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10 NIV