The Prodigal Cat
“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.” Luke 15:20 (NIV)
We have two cats at our house: twin gray tabbies named Sam and Bo, adopted from an animal shelter. Our early years together were filled with lavish attention on my part and copious purring on theirs. Then, one dark and stormy October morning, the unthinkable happened.
My husband Bill and I were headed to the airport for a predawn flight to New England. Rain was coming down in sheets as we dragged our luggage to the back door and fumbled with our umbrellas.
When I flung open the door, Bo — the smaller, faster, more rebellious brother — appeared out of nowhere, slipped through my legs and plunged into the darkness without a backward glance.
Suitcases forgotten, we tore after him, but Bo remained maddeningly out of reach — bounding forward, doubling back, then taking off again. Finally, we had to leave for the airport. Had to.
I was soaking wet and inconsolable. How could I abandon poor Bo to the elements? Yes, our daughter-in-law would arrive at our doorstep in a couple of hours. Yes, Bo would no doubt take shelter in the nearby bushes and be safely back inside the house before our plane landed in Boston.
But what if he got lost? Got hurt by another animal? Got hit by a car? My stomach was tied in knots, thinking of the terrible possibilities.
Phone calls and text messages flew back and forth. Our grown children put a rescue operation in motion. Sympathetic friends on Facebook offered suggestions: “Put his food bowl outside.” “Put his litter box outside.” “Put your pajamas outside.” Apparently the familiar scents were meant to woo him home.
Nothing worked. When we returned from our trip and still no Bo, my heart grew heavier. Was anyone feeding him, caring for him? Or was Bo starving to death, alone and shivering, far from home? Meanwhile, Sam wandered from room to room, searching for his lost brother, his mournful meow adding to my guilt.
After 12 long days, I stood on our back steps, prepared to try one last suggestion: “Go outside at midnight when the air is still and call out his name.” So I did, as loudly as I could, not caring if our neighbors thought I was daft. “Bo!”
Then I heard it. The faintest meow.
“Bo!” I cried out. Another plaintive meow. Like a mother who knows her baby’s cry, I knew this was my cat. Knew it.
I hurried across our backyard, calling his name, so agitated that I forgot about our back fence until I nearly fell over it. “Bo!” I shrieked, thinking he might come to me. But, no. The same sad meow was still a hundred feet away.
Minutes later, armed with a cat carrier and a bowl of food, I opened the back gate and tiptoed across the grass toward a dark shape beneath our neighbor’s deck. When Bo meowed again, but didn’t budge, I shook his bowl, hoping the sound and scent would coax him out. He extended one tentative paw. Then another.
The second he got close enough, I threw my arms around him, stuffed him in the cat carrier, and ran back to the house, my heart in my throat. My dear boy wasn’t dead; he was alive! He wasn’t lost; he was found!
I watched him dart around our brightly lit kitchen, tears of joy and relief pouring down my face, and thought about our heavenly Father, who’d once watched my own escape into darkness. He, too, had waited. Called my name. Came looking for me, knowing I was too scared to come to Him. Wrapped His arms around me and carried me home.
It’s the same with the story Jesus told of the prodigal son in Luke 15:20, “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.”
Just as Bo is a changed cat — he comes whenever I call and lets me scratch his head for hours — I am definitely a changed woman. When God calls, I come running, knowing His love alone has tamed my rebel heart.
Lord, Your love for us is endless, Your patience with us is boundless, and Your willingness to save us is beyond understanding. Thank You for pursuing us, rescuing us and welcoming us home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (NIV)
For more real-life stories celebrating God’s love and faithfulness, get your copy of 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs.
Join Liz on Facebook today, July 28, where you can meet Sam and Bo and enter to win a purr-fect collection of Liz’s latest books!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
God never gives up on His own. How have you experienced His loving patience in your life? And how has it changed you?
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