I stood outside and called for him. Over and over again, I called for him. But he didn’t run back to me. My husband got in his car and circled the neighborhood but had no luck. Though I was thankful that God had brought us into a new year, January 1, 2022, had a damper on it.
Our dog Pepper, affectionately known as Pep Pep went missing in the wee hours of December 31, 2021. So, on January 1, 2022, I was standing outside calling for him, but he didn’t run back to me. On and off throughout New Year’s Day, we remained hopeful that he would return. But he didn’t come back.
When I stood outside calling for him, all I wanted was to see him running down the sidewalk back to me. That’s all I wanted. I wanted him safe. I wanted him secure.
Out there in the world on his own, I could do nothing for him. I wanted him to be okay. I wanted him to be comfortable. But I knew wherever he was, he wasn’t at peace because he wasn’t at home.
January 2, 2022, came. Still no sign of our Pep Pep. But we remained hopeful. This wasn’t the first time Pepper wandered away from home. I remember a few years ago having the same feeling of desperation. But we prayed then, and he came back. So, we prayed again this time.
Some may think praying for the return of a pet to be trivial. But I believe there is nothing too big or small for God to do. If it bothers me, and God sees my heart anyway, I may as well bring it to Him, right? So, that’s what I did.
In the shower, I said God, “All I want is for Pepper to come back home, never leave again, and when it’s his turn to leave this world, I want him in our care.” And my goodness. God spoke to me in that shower. Though not in an audible voice, I could hear Him in my spirit saying,
That’s all God wants from us. He wants us in His care, in His comfort. He doesn’t want us out here in this world void of peace, missing true love. God wants us right at home with Him. And when we one day leave this earth, He wants us right under his pavilion. Right in His safety where we can die in peace, and one day rise in victory.
“Mercy,” is all I could think of as a response. I continued to think about Pepper. I thought about how I called for him over and again, anxiously waiting for his return. Praying that he would run back to me. Again, I could hear God saying,
God calls out for us continuously. He wants us to run back to him. It doesn’t matter that we have wandered off. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been in the world. He wants us back. God just wants to see us running back.
“I hear you, Lord. I’ll write about it,” is the only way I could respond. This really put God’s predicament in a different light for me. What condition must God’s heart be in as He patiently calls for us to come back home? It must be difficult for God to see those who He loves out in the world away from His comfort. At least I couldn’t see Pepper suffering. But God sees our condition when we are away from Him, and He desires that we answer His call. Yet, because God has graced us with free-will, He simply calls for us in hopes that we will return.
I didn’t say it aloud to God, but I was thinking this: “Okay, God. I get it. I understand your plight. I’ll write about it… but will you bring him back please?” I didn’t know whether He would or not. We jokingly also call Pepper the Prodigal Dog. So, I had faith that he would return home. But January 2, 2022, also came and went, and Pepper was a no show.
I went to sleep worried about old Pep Pep. It was cold and rainy that night. It was scheduled to drop to the 30’s. I didn’t know if he could make it in those conditions. But what could we do? All we could do was remain hopeful that he would return home.
I was honestly nervous that God was going to make this a hard lesson for me. I thought that maybe God was going to allow Pepper to stay gone as a bitter example of salvation’s harsh reality. Because the truth is, some people will never come back to God. And that must hurt God deeply. To have someone you love so much, to have someone that you literally died for never turn back to you, must be heartbreaking.
God has called some of His prophets to go through tough real-life scenarios to relay a message. He required Hosea to marry a harlot, He required Jeremiah to wear an actual yoke around his neck, and He asked Ezekiel to bake bread over cow dung. So, I worried that maybe God would make me feel the heaviness He feels when souls do not come back to Him by Pepper not coming back to me.
Pepper not returning to me, and God’s people not returning to Him are light years away in terms of importance… but you catch my drift. Yet, I was still optimistic that he would come back. But I didn’t know for sure if Pepper would be back home by the time I wrote this article.
But this morning, January 3, 2022, Pepper came back.
And I was so happy! I was so overjoyed, I shed a few tears. I didn’t expect to be quite that overwhelmed but I was. I think I was over the moon with delight, not just because Pepper had returned, but also because I realized God had answered my silent prayers. And in that moment, once again, I knew God was saying,
In Luke 15, Jesus gives three parables about the lost being returned to its rightful place—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. In all three stories when the lost sheep, coin, and son were found, there was great rejoicing.
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:10 NIV)
God is overjoyed whenever His people return to their rightful place. If you have heard God calling you, I urge you to run to Him. Make God overwhelmed with delight and answer His call. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve strayed. God’s joy over your return home will remain the same.
That’s all I have for you all today. But before I leave, Happy New Year! Have a blessed day you guys. If it's the Lord's will, I'll see you next week.
Quin Arrington's debut book "And Then You Shall Have Good Success: Attaining Good Success God's Way" is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook format. Link to book listed below.