So a terrible thing happened last week – a scary and adrenaline-producing situation – my dog ran away. Now to paint this picture a little more, I must rewind a bit to explain this. My husband and I have recently rescued a dog from the RSPCA – a beautiful, fierce and timid Husky crossbreed named Zira. She joins my husband and our other dog Buster to make our little family of four. Yes, we are the couple that has “fur babies.” We love them with a huge part of our hearts. God is yet to grace us with children of our own, and these fluffy bundles of energy are our babies. Zira comes with a bundle of baggage; she was neglected by her previous owner, and has some trauma stories, and she has learnt how to fend for herself. I have said on occasions, she has “the wild in her.” You can see it in her eyes and she has a strong stubborn streak. We chose her, and are slowly trying to win her over and help her to bond with us. However, there’s still a long way to go to help this lovely, timid, fierce girl become domesticated and choose us as her people, her masters.
So last weekend I went out to visit my dad – he lives in the bush in a gully with a creek running through the middle of the property. Buster loves visiting his property, but Zira had never been there. After we had been there about half an hour, Zira slipped out of my dad’s front door and started running for the bush, with my dopey Staffy running after her and me panting and puffing at least 100 metres behind. I was yelling, calling, thinking the worst. Zira, who is not yet bonded to me, took for the hills and gullies, the freedom of the wild too strong a call to ignore, and she single-handedly (or pawedly) took Buster with her. I was calling and yelling for what seemed like an eternity, and had walked about half an hour from dad’s house and here comes Buster bounding back to me. Zira, however, was not even spotted on the horizon. It was in that moment that I began to lose hope of finding her. Fearing the worst, that she was gone for good, and out of desperation, I prayed. “God you are the god of all creation and you command the seasons, and I know you care for the little things in my life too,” I began to sob. “Please help me, please rescue her, please bring her back to me, please let someone find her.” I knew she wasn’t bonded to me, and she didn’t yet know how to come when I called her, so I added “God, I need her to come right into my hands. I’m too slow to catch her, and I don’t know where she is. Please bring her to me.” After another 10 or so minutes, Buster and I headed for home, and I began to resolve a plan for how I would tell Phil that I had lost our girl. I trudged, retracing my steps over logs, up hills and down, and over boulders until I once again reached my dad’s property. As I was rounding the corner around a shed on the edge of the property, Zira came running up behind us, seemingly from nowhere. She circled Buster and I and then ran straight up to my arms, where I had dropped to the ground with my hands out. You may think I’m dramatizing this, but I kid you not, this was a God-given miracle. It makes no physical sense, but at some moment in the middle of the bush, Zira decided that we are her family, that she chose us, that even the draw of the wild calling did not measure up. My prayer to God was answered in that instance, and it reminds me of the verse in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” God cares for our lives. He will answer, and we have God’s power in our prayers. God also showed me that this is like His love for us. He chose us, long before we even knew. We feel that drawing – that pull – and He calls us into relationship with Him. At some stage, we must choose Him, we must choose a life given over into His hands, knowing He knows best, knowing that even though our flesh wants to run and seek after things that feel good and freeing, life with God is better than anything we could ever desire.
I also couldn’t help but be challenged by my reaction. After all, Zira is “just a dog” – her eternal salvation is not in question. But my reaction was huge, my fear was real and my prayer was heartfelt. My Kairos was, “When was the last time I prayed that earnestly for friends and family who are far from God’s love, who don’t know what it’s like to be in God’s family or live a life given over to God?” What a challenge, what a reminder of the power of prayer and earnest care for the salvation of people in our world.