The tale has a happy ending (wagging tail, no doubt). Mikey was next door at the neighbors, disoriented and trapped under the neighbor’s house.
Now to the part about Joe being a better man. He is a better man because of what he said. I could tell that he meant what he said. Some of us run our mouths and don’t mean it. Joe meant it. The it that he meant was these words: “I would not take a million dollars for my dog.” Before I could drop my jaw, he said it again.
My dog is not for sale, but if she were, the asking price would be a lot lower. If someone offered me a million dollars for my dog, you can’t imagine how fast I would run to the bank. We have a good dog, but sometimes she “drives” me nuts. (Sheri says, in golf terms, it is not a drive, but a putt.)
I am not very emotionally attached to our dog, certainly not a million dollars’ worth of emotion. Joe told me that once a person gets older, and the kids are grown up, you tend to form a bond with your pets. I’m “older” but all the kids are not grown, and I am definitely not there with the bonding thing and our dog.
Jesus told three stories (Luke 15) about losing things that are valuable. A shepherd lost a sheep, a woman lost a coin, and a father lost a (prodigal) son. I suppose that, out of those three stories, Mikey is more like the lost sheep — he did not intend to get lost, it just happened. Sheep, like dogs, get lost and wind up under the neighbor’s house, disoriented and trapped.
I know people who get lost, disoriented, and trapped, but they did not set out with that in mind. Ask anyone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol if they intended for life to wind up like this. Have you ever known someone to say, “When I grow up I want to be an alcoholic; I want to lose my job, family, and friends.”
One indiscretion, one bad choice leads to another and they wind up in a bad way, in a bad place in life.
The purpose of the three stories Jesus told was that God is like the shepherd, the woman, and the father. God really cares when something valuable, like you and me, is lost. He goes to great lengths to find what is lost. Now is the season of Lent, a time in which we remember the price God paid to find and to save what has been lost.
If Jesus had lived in Carrollton, Ga., he would have told a fourth story, the one about a man named Joe who lost his dog and searched until he found him. Unknown to Joe, his beloved Mikey was next door the entire time. That story reminds me of all the lost people I know — so close to God and they don’t even know it.
Did I just say that Joe McGinnis is like God? OK, sorry. He is a better person than me, but not that much better.
Davis is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton.