Prone to Wander

In the middle of the night last night, Mitch came tearing through the doggie door, huffing and panting like he'd just run a marathon.  After gulping down a bowl of water, he came and snuggled in bed with us.  As soon as he came near, his odor reached my nostrils.  "Yuck!" I whined.  "You smell like wet, dirty dog."  (You know that odor that kids get when they run around outside and get good and sweaty? It's like that. . . only worse.)

A little confused by his breathlessness and obvious activity, I wondered what he'd been up to.  But before long, my need for sleep overcame my thought process, and I drifted off.  No worries, though, because all the confusion was cleared up when I looked out the kitchen window this morning.

Before I go any farther, let me say that we got Mitch from the pound over seven years ago.  His reason for being at the pound was because he had a tendency to run away.  For the first couple of years that we had him, he proved this to be true.  He would find a way to get out of the fenced yard and go out to explore the neighborhood.  It's in his nature.  He's an explorer.  He loves to find new things, and when he's done, he finds his way home.

Still, I was not fond of this particular habit, so we did everything we could to ensure that he couldn't get out of the fenced back yard.  We also tried to make sure that we made a nice enough home for him that he wouldn't want to leave.  Little by little, progress was made--so much so that we were finally able to  remove some of the barriers blocking the gates to the fences (which made life easier on us for passing through them).

However, last night--for whatever reason--Mitch broke free and returned to his wandering ways.  My first thought was that it was all part of his grieving process.  After all, he had known and loved Tippy since we brought him home from the pound.  As far as he was concerned, she was his "sissy," and he has certainly mourned her passing.  Whether he went out to look for her or was simply dealing with his grief, I can't say, but I do feel that the stress and heartache of the past week had something to do with his behavior.  I sat him down and had a long talk with him this morning, but I didn't have it in me to scold him.  I understood too well how he felt.  After all, he's not the only one who's prone to wander.

If I'm honest, I must admit that I tend to go astray when things don't work the way I think they should.  When my plans aren't being fulfilled.  When I feel disappointed and discouraged.  When it seems like life is just some unfair joke, and everyone is laughing at my expense. . . God included.  Yes, during those time, I have a tendency, like Mitchell, to return to my old ways.  The old habits.  The old ways of dealing with my problems.  To be perfectly blunt, my behavior conveys the message, "Fine, Lord, if you're not going to take care of this, I will!"

Of course, before long, I find myself so far away from where I really want to be and much worse off than I was when I started and, like Mitchell, I make my way home.  Back into my Father's arms.  Back into the presence of the One who loves and cares for me.  Back where I belong.

What about you?  Are you where you should be today, or have you strayed from the Lord?  It's never too late to go back.  He's waiting for you with open arms. . .and He doesn't even mind if you smell like a dirty dog!

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. - Psalm 119:176