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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Prodigal Beagle

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety‑nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety‑nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:4-7

I would like to introduce you to Daisy, the most precious beagle this side of the Mason-Dixon.

(Told ya.)

Daisy was a Christmas gift from Luke and me to our kids two years ago. She began her darlin' life sleeping in the laundry room at night and gradually found a permanent home in our fenced-in backyard. Her body may be penned, but her hound dog heart roams somewhere outside the confines of the chainlink fence alongside the strays who like to taunt her with their freedom. Her breed is prone to follow their noses, run with a pack, and get lost easily so we have to keep a careful eye on the gates so she doesn't take off on a wild adventure.

The careful eye wasn't so diligent on New Years' Eve.

We awoke New Year's Day to the wails of our youngest son crying, "The gate is open and Daisy is gooonnnnneeeeee!"

So much for sleeping in.

Luke reluctantly climbed out of bed to go look for our wayward girl. I cooked breakfast and tried to keep everyone hopeful dad would find her, but in my heart I knew she had to have been gone for hours and there was no telling how far she'd gone. Daisy had gotten out a couple of times before and I knew from experience even if he found her, she was prone to run like the wind in the opposite direction to keep from going back to the fence.

After an hour had passed, Luke came back in to report he had seen her once outside a patch of woods but that when she'd seen him, just like I predicted, she had run into the trees. Luke kept calling but she never came. All he knew to do was come back to the house and wait.

As I whispered prayers for her to find her way home I realized her little escapade was not at all unlike our own.

How often are we safe inside God's boundaries when temptation comes sniffing at the gate? "It's so much more fun out here. We are doing anything we want! There are no consequences. No one will ever know if you sneak outside for just a bit. You are all alone in there but if you come with us, you'll always have someone who understands. What do you say?"

And before we know it we've slipped out. Tentatively at first, we may even walk back inside the fence for a bit before we venture a longer stay. There's the ever-deepening relationship with a male co-worker, hidden shopping loot with hidden debt to match, one week that turns to one month of no prayer or time for God's Word, or bitterness turned to hatred over an unforgiven hurt. The list could go on forever but in each of these circumstances the tragedy is that we often don't realize the exact moment when we got so far away we could no longer fiind our way back home.

For both believers and unbelievers, there is always a Father searching, calling, and hoping the wayward one will quit running, cease striving, and accept His mercy. The strays of the world tell us He is only coming to lock us away and hold us back from a self-indulgent, exciting life. And because our nature is to follow our nose, we run.

Back to my prodigal dog. A few hours passed when our doorbell rang. Our neighbor was at the door and said, "Daisy is over at the house. She's laying down and looks worn out."

Excitedly, Luke and the boys grabbed a huge piece of a ham out of the fridge and went to bring her home. She looked like she might bolt again but the food and the sweet voice of her masters were just too much to resist. Daisy wasn't greeted with "Bad, stupid girl! How dare you run? Why did you break our hearts?!", though that is what she most likely deserved. Instead, she was welcomed by the hugs of three boys and a feast. I wonder if her little doggy self had any comprehension that within the bounds came freedom, abundant food and water, and unconditional love the strays would never experience.

Wayward one, are you worn out and ready to accept the fence is for your freedom and not your bondage? Stray one, do you yearn for a place to belong and be loved? Inside the backyard is all that and more.

Won't you please come home?

Father, I pray for my sister who may be thinking of bolting from the fence. I pray for the one who has barely stepped out. I pray for the one who doesn't quite know the way back home. Keep your watchful eye on each one and reveal yourself to her no matter how far she's roamed. Bring her to her senses and welcome her with the feast of your lovingkindness. Amen.

Dig Deeper:
Do you want to know more about the lengths to which
God will go for you?
Read all of Luke Chapter 15.

Visit Lisa at her personal blog, The Preacher's Wife.

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Blogger Linda said...

Lisa, I am almost at a loss for words. I absolutely loved this. It hit so close to home. There isn't a person alive who can't relate to Daisy. And the way you all greeted your prodigal choked me up when I think of the Father's kindness and mercy and compassion.

January 13, 2008 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, What a great story!! That is an awesome analogy, I love Daisy and the take on the fence... We tend to think the grass is greener on the other side, boy are we wrong!! Thanks for His MERCY. Great writing.
God Bless.

January 13, 2008 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

I have never thought about it in this way, but what a great analogy! It is so easy to be tempted outside of the gate. Once out, it can be difficult to find the way back, or to find your way to a yard that looks strangely like the right one, but really is not. We can fool ourselves easily.
Thank you for the reminder and the great lesson.

January 13, 2008 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Praise and Coffee said...

Oh Lisa,
What an incredible post. You touched my heart in so many ways.

This is so powerful. I pray that it touches lost hearts like it did mine.

Blessings and hugs friend,

January 13, 2008 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

Just call me (a former) Daisy. How awesome it is to be welcomed home by the Father - open arms, healing, love, forgiveness, restoration.
I too, am praying for those who have one foot out of the gate, or those who think they've wandered too far to find their way home.
I love the picture you painted. From the point of view of the One who is searching and missing the wayward one - not thinking of her error - just wanting her back home. It's my favorite view of the Father!
I need to remember to get tissue before I read your devotions - you always get me where I live!
love ya,

January 13, 2008 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Cory said...

Lisa, Thank you. This is a wonderful illustration of the true freedom of obeying God's laws. Take care, Cory

January 13, 2008 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Thanks for touching my heart dear.

January 13, 2008 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger A Stone Gatherer said...

Lisa, thanks for the awesome picture through something we can all relate too! I especially love where you said "within the bounds came freedom". God does not put the bounds there to hold us back, but to let us have true freedom! Praise Him for His awesome love! BTW my daughter just informed me yesterday when she grows up she wants a Beagle! Daisy is adorable!

January 14, 2008 at 3:07 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I know what it is like to worry over the lost dog, and can imagine how God must feel for each of us who wanders. I have done it myself, and am thankful to be back where I belong. Thank you Lisa.

January 14, 2008 at 7:11 AM  
Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

Lisa, this is beautiful, wise, convicting. . . . and that's the cutest dog I've ever seen!!

January 14, 2008 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger marina said...

Lisa, You are so right its never is greener on the other side even if we think so (its a lie)and I think we all can relate to Daisy!
sometime or other in our own life
That is the prettest beagle I have ever seen.marina

January 14, 2008 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

Wonderful, Lisa! I related to this post on more than on a matter of fact, we have a German Shepherd that used to run like the wind when freedom beckoned. (She's older now, and less ambitious.)

But your analogy to the Christian life is right on. This post spoke to my heart. Thanks!

January 14, 2008 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Kelly @ Love Well said...

This made me cry.

(And I promise you it had NOTHING to do with post-baby hormones.)

Beautiful, Lisa. God's tender mercies are amazing, aren't they? Who are we that He would take mind of us?

January 14, 2008 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Why am I like your dog? I find myself so tempted to run (especially in my thoughts) when God has given me everything I need for freedom.

What a wonderful analogy this is. Thanks for sharing it with us.


January 14, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I once was just like Daisy. Outside the boundaries of God's protection and bolted even further when I heard him calling me. But praise God, he never gave up on me! He is truly the God of second chances. This was beautifully written and thanks for sharing!

January 14, 2008 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Denise C said...

Oh what a mighty, gracious God we serve. Without HIS grace where would we be???
Thanks for sharing this morning! I Love daisy by the way...she's so cute!

January 14, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

This post sounded like me. I have stepped out of bounds myself. I know that when I get back inside the fence that HE takes very good care of me. Thanks for your wonderful post and thanks for the great prayer! Love You!

January 14, 2008 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Mary Lou said...

Lisa, what a great example. You bless me with your writing. He is using you in a mighty way. Thank you for sharing and giving us food to ponder on and chew on...Blessings on your day..

January 14, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger windycindy said...

Hello Lisa, You made me really pause and think. First, I had to get over the adorable puppy picture! Boredom comes easily to me. I am also on the fickle side. Going outside of my
"fence" sometimes occurs to me. Then, I rattle my brains and heart and eventually come to my sense. Thanks for the words.....Cindi

January 14, 2008 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

Excellent Lisa! I pray that you continue to seek Him with all you've got because He is just beautiful as He shines through you!


January 14, 2008 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Yes! The fence is for our freedom--He protects us from what could harm us and bring us down. Thanks for this wonderful post, Lisa!

January 14, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Leti said...

What a thought provoking post. Lately I've been "peeking out", thinking there must be something better, bigger. I know that the battle begins in my mind, so I've been praying alot and renewing my mind through Scripture. Thanks for sharing.

January 14, 2008 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Living Beyond said...

SO good - thank you!

January 14, 2008 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Xandra said...


This was a great analogy! There are areas in my walk where I need to stop wandering out of the fence and turn around and bolt the gate. Thank you for the gentle reminder...


January 14, 2008 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Merrie said...

That hits so close to home. I am so tempted at times to run as fast as I can from God's calling and will. Only to wake up knowing I am where I am supposed to be and so thankful for His faithfulness, love and care.
Thank you!

January 14, 2008 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Joyce said...

Hwllo, What an analogy. I am like your dog I can run fast in the wrong direction. I ma learning from God's Love that walking the straight and narrow is the only way. Thank you for your words.

Love and Hugs,

January 14, 2008 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, as one who has chased down wayward dogs (with food treats), I really loved this post. We're all wayward ones, saved by God's grace. Posts like this help strengthen fences, and I appreciate your message so much. /Bonnie

January 15, 2008 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger lori said...

I have been Daisy at times in my life and I needed to find my way home...
simply powerful!!

we NEED to pray for the Daisy's out there...we are all really only one step outside of the fence...
we need someone to "watch out back" no better way than prayer:)

yea, you've done it again...gotta copy this one for the files...the kids are going to hear about this one!!
love you girl!!

January 15, 2008 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Ang baylis said...

I loved this post, Lisa! You all must have been so scared! What a great reminder of what could happen if we stray. I'm grateful that He's always there to welcome us back again! You are such a beautiful writer! Thank you for your obedience and for sharing with all of us!

Much love,
Angie xoxo

January 15, 2008 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Who knew a crazy dog could teach so much! :)

Thanks for all your great comments - you girls are who I want to 'run' with. :)

Much love to all of you..


January 15, 2008 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I love your story and the poignant analogy...there is such freedom and blessing inside the safety of the fence.

Praying that your sweet beagle learns this as well!

January 16, 2008 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Hi Lisa,

Wonderful story. Your writing never dissapoints. Girl, the fence is our freedom. Amen.... Amen... Amen... I only wish I wuld have realized it earlier in life. It is my lifes purpose now to help younger women to realize this truth and become free in the fence. Love you, Lynn

January 21, 2008 at 5:00 PM  
Blogger -TNChick- said...


I loved reading this. I am a Beagle owner and I can relate as mine loves to stray from home is the chance is given. I really like how you done the comparison here. It's SO true.

P.S. Glad Daisy came home.

January 22, 2008 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Janelle & Ella said...

This story gave me goosebumps! Such a good application.

January 23, 2008 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger AJsMom said...

What a wonderful story! Great comparison to us. The grass is not greener on the other side. Thanks for reminding me!

February 8, 2008 at 12:02 AM  

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