Emmie was lost.
She was about ten at the time. She had gone outside to play with her scooter in the driveway. It was almost dusk and I told her she had to be back inside before dark. She had taken our dog Grunt, the most athletic beagle the Lord ever created, outside with her.
Several minutes passed and Emmie had not come back inside. I began to be concerned and went outside to check on her. I saw the scooter on the side of the lawn, but no Emmie. Then I saw Grunt's leash and collar, but no Emmie. From the vantage point of our house, I could see far down both directions on the circle on which we lived. There was no evidence of girl nor dog.
I called Glen who had gone to the gym. He quickly left to come home, telling me later he had gone 85mph traveling the streets between the gym and our house.
I took to the streets. I called out her name. I called Grunt's name (not that I expected him to come when called. Grunt loved to escape and would not willingly return just because he had been called.) With each step, my mind raced and began to formulate plans. What would we do next? When would we call the police? Our son Noah was away at one of his advanced Marine Corps schools; our daughter Marie was in Tuscaloosa, neither would be available. Who else could help, would help?
I don't know who called Tom, if it was me or Glen, but someone did. Tom was, and still is, a dear friend and he adored Emmie. I know the moment he received the call he dropped whatever he was doing and was on his way looking for her.
I was making my way back around the circle when Glen made it home. I had not seen one glimpse of girl nor beagle. Glen went around in the car and I went in a different direction on foot. Then the silver car pulled up and a young blonde girl tumbled out of the car.
Emmie was safe! And so was Grunt, as Tom pulled him out of the back seat.
As Emmie was playing, Grunt had escaped his leash and tore off running. (Grunt running was a beautiful site to behold, unless you were the one chasing him!) Emmie, who loved Grunt more than anyone else, took off after her dog. Around the circle, down the street, toward the creek they went. That's where Tom encountered them on his way to our house.
I didn't know whether to spank her or hug her again. Imagine my relief that my precious daughter, only moments ago lost to me, was now found. I didn't want to let her go. My gratitude to Tom was, and still is, immense.
Just as the prodigal's father rejoiced to see his son return, so our Heavenly Father rejoices when His children return. "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found," (Luke 15:24). It is the great joy of His heart to forgive, and He "delighteth in mercy."
The Ninety and Nine
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold;
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare;
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me.
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry;
’Twas sick and helpless and ready to die.
“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way,
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.
And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”
by Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868