When my husband and I drove up to the Adirondacks a few weeks ago, our furry, four-legged child, Nina, made the trek with us. And when we set out to scale Whiteface Mountain on our first day, she took the enthusiastic lead, despite a creeping, damp mist.
The hike was strenuous and muddy, and when we reached the summit after three hours, we were exhausted.
By “we,” I mean Dave and me.
Nina was still streaking back and forth with boundless energy—which didn’t bode well for our slippery downhill scramble. It seemed likely she’d haul one of us over the edge of the mountain if we kept her on the leash. So, against our better judgment, we decided to give her free rein for the downward trek.
The system worked out all right at first. Nina would spring ahead, and then wait just around the corner until she could see us—before taking off again. Slowly, though, she began increasing that distance, even as we called for her to stop and wait.
I was just thinking it was time to put her back on the leash, even if I ended up in mud— when I heard a crashing in the brush ahead, a few sharp, distant barks, and then . . .
Nothing.
We took off running downhill, calling her name, whistling. But no fuzzy form came bounding back to meet us. The rain picked up, masking our voices. After 15 tense minutes, Dave and I split up to scour the mountainside. I scrambled back upward, yelling myself hoarse, praying hard, until I was far past the point we’d lost her.
Reality began to sink in. We were 2,000 miles from home with no one else around for miles—and our willful dog was missing. Maybe for good.
Stomach knotted, I turned to begin the long trudge back down the mountain.
That’s when I heard it: A twig snapped behind me.
I whipped around . . . and there was my disobedient dog, slinking down the trail, bedraggled and panting, damp ears pinned back, guilt plastered all over her face.
It didn’t occur to me for even a moment to yell at her. Instead, I broke down and hugged her and wept. She was back, and that was all the mattered.
And in that moment, it hit me. You know where this is going: It’s exactly how God takes me back the instant I turn in His direction—no matter what ways I’ve strayed, the petty arguments I’ve perpetuated, the way I’ve blown past listening to Him three mornings in a row.
It doesn’t matter that you just sat through that creative meeting with a “can’t do” attitude. Or yelled at your kids. Or thought things you’d never want to say out loud when you saw that last budget report.
Because God’s not fixed on those things. He’s fixed on you—calling you home.