I thought that today’s blog would be about something I observed while Bob and I were in Montreal on our anniversary trip this past weekend.
I also thought it would be more my “normal” length. (I just thought it fair to warn you.)
But all that changed when Bob got a text Sunday as we were preparing for our flight. It was from our friends who were taking care of our dog Dakota:
Dakota was being brought back in from playing in the field
and a Bradford pear tree fell and spooked her.
She ran around the house and up the driveway.
Paula hit the shock collar button but she didn't stop.
We have looked and looked and cannot find her.
We have alerted our county shelter and all our neighbors.
I know Jenn will be devastated.
I am sorry.
Suddenly Bob and I knew firsthand how anyone who has ever lost someone or something very important feels. Disbelief, shock, fear, anxiety, numbness...
The place we had fully enjoyed was now the last place we wanted to be. We just wanted to get back home.
Facing the fact that we were utterly helpless, we joined hands and Bob prayed. "God, You care when things are lost. A lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost boy. We ask that you bring our lost Dakota back to us."
After we prayed, a verse came to mind:
"Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don't plant gardens.
They do not sow or reap--and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them.
And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird.
If He looks after them, of course He will look after you." (Matthew 6:26)
I'd read that so many times, even memorized it a few years ago. But never before had Jesus' words about how my heavenly Father cares for His creatures meant so much to me.
We headed to the airport where our attempt at a standby flight failed. While we waited, Bob channeled his emotions into composing "missing dog" posts on Facebook. We were each fighting for faith in our own way, but I couldn't get involved in Bob's efforts. I knew all it would do was increase my anxiety. I had to physically turn my back so that I wouldn't get drawn in.
Finally on board, we each began to rehearse the misgivings we'd had about leaving Dakota at the farm. Both of us had thought something like this could happen--it was one of the few times we had left her since we found her by the side of the road 18 months ago. But we couldn’t go back and change any of it. We accepted that it was a freak accident and waited.
We landed, hustled to our car, and headed home. We hardly arrived in the vicinity before we lost daylight. Bob pulled out flashlights and we drove slowly with the headlights on high, breathing prayers and straining into the darkness for her.
We didn’t find her.
As we drove, I asked Bob what strategy we should implement the next day. I needed to do something to ward off the helplessness. Bob was pretty sure Dakota wouldn't be found by driving the roads and calling her name. We'd just have to trust that someone would find her and call us.
We sat in silence for the rest of the 45-minute drive home.
Back in our kitchen, Bob looked at me and said, "I don't know how to do this." I told him that he didn't have to know how, that he didn't have to be strong. All I knew was that we needed to hold onto hope until there was reason not to.
Now it was my turn to put out the word. I texted friends and asked them to pray against coyotes.
Sleep didn't come easily.
But early yesterday, in the middle of the morning rush at Starbucks, my boss handed me the phone. It was Bob.
"Jesus answered your prayers."
Somehow, Dakota had made her way back to our friends' farm and was found curled up asleep on their back porch.
We both cried happy tears.
Bob went on to share what God had told him when he woke up in the middle of the night and asked what he was supposed to learn from this situation. He said, "It seemed like God said to me, 'If Dakota comes back, it's because I love you. If Dakota doesn't come back, I still love you.’"
I am still processing what God wants me to learn and what parallels this experience has to my own walk of faith. But here’s where I am so far: just like Dakota found her way home, God has put within each of us the need to find Home, to know peace and safety in His Arms. I believe He allows us to come to the realization that we are far from Him before He shows us how to get Home, so that we will know what He saved us from.
Dakota is still sleeping off her little adventure. Meanwhile, Bob and I are hugely relieved and utterly grateful and completely amazed...and a little more aware of what it means to be...Home.