I’m going back through my prayer journals and just tonight I found a gem. Seems I was crying out to God for our son (ad nauseum) a year and a half ago, asking our Father to have and show mercy in his life. On the particular morning I was scribing, Graham had spent considerable time two nights prior, screaming that God was a “nowhere God, not real, and never speaks—at least not to me.”
Turns out, while he was ranting and indicting God for lack of evidence, some children in a wholly different household were praying with tears that the Lord “would get someone to help us get our dog back.” These children had lost their puppy, a mini Doberman, and were sorrowful beyond consolation. They prayed by their bedside that God would show up for them and, in typical God fashion, the Father was already answering their prayer through the unlikely means of a boy who was sick to death of a God who was “nowhere.”
The next day, my son finds a dog roaming our neighborhood and calls the number on the tag. The owners are elated. They tell their kids and Graham can hear their screams of delight in the background. “We’ll come get it right away!” they said. “Thank you and God bless you!” they said, and told him a reward was coming his way. Shortly afterward, a car came down the main street of our subdivision and Graham senses its riders, unknown to him, were the happy family coming for their missing dog.
“Are you the ones I just talked to on the phone?” he asked.
“Why, yes! Yes we are!” They seemed elated. And why not? Their dog, once lost, now was found. The kids would be jubilant!
But something didn’t set right with Graham. There was a sense, a subtle quake, his internal moral compass jerking to and resting upon true north. Then, yellow flags, turning fiery red. “That’s not your dog,” he spoke flatly.
“Uh, sure it is,” the passenger said, pulling the dog into the back seat by its chain. The dog, meanwhile, wasn’t exactly thrilled about going for a ride. Where were the kids? Graham thought. Why wasn’t the dog excited to see its masters?
The couple fabricated some story, thanked Graham for being a good citizen and drove away with the dog. Amazingly, he saw them drive on down the road and pull into the driveway of one of the neighborhood homes! When the real owners drove up, Graham told them what had happened, but not to worry. He knew where their puppy was and helped them get it. That’s when he found out he was the answer to some little tykes’ prayers. Think of it, at the very moment Graham was calling God out, complaining that he’d never witnessed Him do anything miraculous, some youngsters were asking God to be gracious to them and send someone to “help” them find their pet. And an insolent, skeptical, critical teenage boy was the one He commissioned. Talk about Win-Win! These children got their Fido back and the Lord trumped a crestfallen boy’s doubtings. Truthfully, far more than just that happened: God kept my son from falling a long way from mercy and grace. There were two rescues that evening.
Take heart, struggling parent. God will honor all your faithful prayers for your prodigals or for the one-step-away-froms, and He will get their attention. Sometimes he uses bushes, sometimes whales, sometimes Nathans, sometimes donkeys. And sometimes He might even resort to using a lost puppy.
Someone who obviously knew a little about the science of parenting, has these wise words to share:
“Every autumn I have a spate of letters from fond parents, teachers, guardians, and monitors, appealing to me to follow up on such and such a youngster who is away from home at college for the first time, and who has to be hunted, followed, shadowed, intercepted and driven to Christian meetings. I have scarcely ever known this desperate technique to work. I understand the panic of parents and guardians, but it is too late then to try high pressure tactics. Prayer, example and precept, in that order, are the means of bringing up children and young folk in the faith. Nor will high pressure tactics and brainwashing techniques avail when young folk have gone off on their own. Some young folk, alas, will have their fling and sow their wild oats, and come at last to heel, sadly, like the prodigal son.
It is where Christians pathetically put their trust in external techniques and artificial stratagems that young folk go astray. Nothing takes the place of the realism of holy living and secret wrestling before God in prayer for our youngsters. We must commit them to God so utterly that we dare not interfere or tamper with their precious souls.”
(William Still, late Pastor of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen, Scotland)
God bless, and with all due respect, parenting isn’t just for cowards. Sometimes it can just plain be for the dogs. And that’s a good thing…