Our dog pushed past me as I opened the door from the laundry room to the garage. His tail wagging with anticipation as he made his way across the garage floor. He knew it was time to explorer his favorite route – right at the driveway, down the sidewalk adjacent to the empty field, cross the street, a stop at the mailbox, and home. A path we walk daily.
But this time, he paused, not at the door leading to the yard, but in front of the workbench. His nose was glued to a small brown ball.
I slowed my steps to better see what he was looking at and there, curled on the floor, was a chipmunk.
He was frozen, the only movement coming from our dog nudging him with his nose. His eyes were squeezed shut, almost as if he was blinding himself for what might happen.
I began to wonder if he was alive. How had he gotten into the garage? Yet, there he was – curled in a ball, cute as could be, and clearly in the wrong place.
I called for my husband, shouting requests, “A cardboard box and warm towels, please.” I held the dog and guarded our small guest. My husband responded with all the requested items and I picked up our little intruder and placed him inside.
My husband and I debated where to place his makeshift home. He opted for outside. But my heart was telling me to keep him warm. Settle him in a corner of the garage. After all, it was cold outside, there was snow on the ground, he had to be freezing.
After some unexpected emotion, we settled on the entrance to our front door. A great compromise for my sympathy-driven response and my husband’s practical approach. I loaded the container with towels and packing foam peanuts to stay off the cold and a handful of nuts just in case he woke up hungry.
The box was snuggled in a corner between the front door and wall. The front porch light turned on to provide warmth and a towel pulled over the top. I gave his small body a little pat and as I walked away, I asked God to take care of His creation throughout the night.
The next morning, I woke with anticipation. Would our chipmunk still be in the box? Had he made it through the night? How was I going to care for him?
The leash fully extended as our dog made his way out the garage door and towards the front porch. I think he knew our furry friend was camping on the doorstep. The towel was untouched, still pulled neatly across the top. I leaned down and peered inside.
A trail of munched packing foam made its way around the front of the house and under the side-yard gate.
He was gone and I have to admit at that moment, I felt a little silly.
He had found his way home!
Have you ever been lost in your life, perhaps not physically misplaced but emotionally or spiritually absent? Have you ever traveled outside your comfortable barriers only to find yourself filled with fear and anxiety – emotionally coiled around feelings of guilt and shame?
I experienced a “lost” season. A time of aimless wondering when life took an unexpected shift. I knew I was loved by God yet He seemed so far away. The dreams I fashioned during my young adult years, were suddenly pushed into my memory and I was left to find a new path for life.
Then another shift, a gentle push to see life perhaps in a different light. Instead of leaning on my worldly understanding, a nudge to risk trusting God.
I had been a Christian for over a decade but giving up my doing for resting in God was foreign. Walking through a future without a plan was uncomfortable but I began to trust, to grow, and with each new challenge, I learned to lean on Him a little harder.
Unlike my approach to rescue our small guest by trapping him in a box and limiting his life to the safety of our garage, God walks with us outside in the world. He allows us to experience feelings of displacement, the fear of not having all the answers, and the frustration of not being able to fix all that is broken, to remind us that He, and He alone, remains in control. Times that reassure us that He is a God of love and grace. He is the One that provides direction. He helps us find our way home.
If you feel like you are wandering, lost, and uncertain, I encourage you to release your tight grip on self-control. God patiently waits for you to lean hard on Him. He waits for you to allow Him to use your season of loss to change your mind and heart.
You can trust Him,
He loves you,
You are His child.
In Luke 15:11 – 24, we are told about a son that experiences a season of wandering. A time when he does life on his terms. Take a few minutes to read the story and reflect on the questions provided.
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 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.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Take a few minutes to consider the following.
- Have you ever experienced a time when God seemed distant? When you attempted to do life on your own? If yes, what was the outcome?
- Do you believe that God can provide relief for your wandering? Why or why not?
- What two actions can you take today to grow closer to God, depend on Him, and relinquish control?