The other day we drove by a sign on a telephone pole announcing a lost dog. My seven year old daughter let out an audible, "awwwwww." My ten year old son, who's sensitivity level isn't very high said, "Would you cut it out, Molly! You do that every time we pass that sign. Why didn't the owner keep track of their dog if they didn't want it to get lost!?" I had to go on to explain to him that is't not always the owner's fault. Sometimes the dog gets out on their own. Just as God is there for us and tries to protect us and take care of us, sometimes we slip away. This weekend's gospel reading talks about how he is there for us and takes care of us. Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” I find it interesting that as humans we find it difficult enough to put our problems, our wants and our desires into God's hands when we, ourselves, are already in God's hands.
We are already in God's protective care and nothing can take us away from him, but like an onry dog, we are always trying to slip out of the leash because we think that we will be just fine without God looking our for us. We think that we are perfectly safe wandering the neighborhood because we just have to mark our territory and do our own thing. What always ends up happening though? We wander around, get chased out of the neighbor's yard by that mean old beagle and end up going back home to our master with our tail tucked between our leg.
God doesn't want us to wander away. He wants us to stay right with him because he knows we are safe there from the things what will hurt us and keep us from him. But, we aren't dogs. We kennel our dogs, keep them inside or fenced because we love them. God loves us so much that he does not keep a leash on us. He understands that as humans true love is free love. He understands that we are more loyal when we stay at his side without restraints. He also loves us enough to accept us back after we've wondered off and rolled in cat poop. He will give us a bath, pat us on the head and continue loving us.