Luke 15:20b – 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. (NIV)
I walked down the road to visit a neighbour, but she was not home. As I turned to leave, the young woman next door hurried towards me, visibly upset. She was carrying her two-week-old premature baby. She had left her four-year-old son to go in for the baby, and the boy had disappeared.
My heart sank as I surveyed the acres of dense bush behind the yards. Across the road, new houses were under construction, and behind them, a creek. At one end of the short road is a busy highway; at the other a river, with a dam and a waterfall — so many dangers for a little boy!
He was not hiding; their dog was gone as well. After a few minutes' search, shouting the boy's name, I asked the construction workers to call the police.
They quickly arrived. I held the tiny baby as the mom spoke to them. A sniffer dog and its handler plunged into the bush while patrol cars and officers searched the roads. Soon, a helicopter buzzed overhead. Our local radio station made an announcement. The police report stated that the area was "saturated".
An hour and a half passed. A small crowd gathered. The sky darkened and a strong wind whipped up dust from the driveway — a summer storm was coming. The baby seemed content as I sheltered his head with my arm. The young mother sobbed. I hugged her with my free arm and prayed softly, Father in heaven, You know where he is. Lead them to him. Keep him safe.
Radios crackled. An officer informed us that a boy had been spotted on River Road. Patrol cars headed in that direction. Long minutes passed. The mother's eyes were glued to the end of her driveway. Then, the bystanders parted to allow two police cars in. A cheer erupted. A dog jumped out of one car and turned circles with excitement. From the other, a little boy emerged, with bare feet and no shirt, just a pair of shorts, his hair sticking up, and a bemused smile on his dirty face.
He had wanted to go to the park. Just home from hospital, his mom had said "No." He grinned shyly as he looked around at everyone smiling at him. Confused, he did not fully understand whether he had done something wrong. An officer attempted to give him a kindly lecture, but his mom kissed him and wrapped her arms tightly around him.
The police left; the crowd dispersed. I handed back the baby. When I arrived home, I began to shake. I had been so scared. Thank God that little boy was safe!
Then, I realized that this is how much God loves us. No matter what we've done or how far we've wandered, He waits and watches and wraps His arms around us when we return. If you've lost your way, don't be afraid to come back. He loves you!
Prayer: Father, thank You for loving us. Thank You for forgiving our sins. Thank You for welcoming us home and rejoicing in our return. Amen.
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