My first lesson in this Jubilee Year of Mercy came from a hairless Mexican dog and her owners over the New Year’s weekend.
Chica, the dog in question, is owned by friends of ours. Over Thanksgiving, we house- and dog-sat for them, and my daughter, always passionate about dogs, bonded with Chica and her brother Taco as they all shared a bed.
On New Year’s Eve, we got a text: Chica had gotten out. Our family was distraught, but only to a fraction of the owners.
Over the next few days, they literally didn’t rest in their search for Chica. We helped a little – designing and distributing fliers, calling vets, posting on social media, hoping to mobilize other sets of eyes. On New Year’s Day, someone called to say they saw Chica get hit crossing a major street, but that when the caller went to help her, she took off, as fast as any greyhound. We spent the night helping the friends comb the streets and alleys where she was last seen. No signs.
While I idled through the streets, what I couldn’t shake was how this was a parable for our time. The shepherd with a lost sheep meets the prodigal father.
The unflagging devotion of Chica’s owners – they could not rest until their dog was safe, and they would do anything to secure her? That’s how God pursues each of us. And they were relentless.
And Chica? Her every need was met, she was showered with love and treats and an FSU t-shirt, and when she got the chance to leave all that, she bolted. Driven by fear or longing for something she thought was better than the perfection she had.
The owners never gave up hope, but on Saturday night they realized they had done everything they possibly could. Though their role in the parable was the divine one, they were only human, and they put things in God’s hands and collapsed.
In the night, Chica came home, waking them at 4 am with her kisses. She was bumped and bruised but no worse. In the end, as we all know, no matter how fierce the search party, ultimately you don’t get found so much as you find home.
And the owners? They were thrilled beyond words.
That’s what divine mercy looks like.