Our prodigal finally tiptoed through our backdoor at 2 a.m. last night.
We’ve had our orange cat for about 12 years now. I picked him out of a litter of tiny strays at the Humane Society when we lived in New Jersey. He was strikingly beautiful with swirls of white in his fur.
And he was terrified of us and the world.
When people visited us, our other more-friendly goliath of a black cat would greet them at the door, and our orange skittish feline would hide away for safety.
Since he had lived outside as a newborn before he was taken to the Humane Society, what he knew was the outdoors. For years, he would stomp all over my potted plants to push their leaves down and then sleep on the soil.
At some point, this Scaredy-Cat, who is supposed to stay inside, got a taste of the outdoors again. At first, it was little excursions out the back door. Then longer jaunts into the wooded area behind our house.
On Wednesday night, he ran out in the evening and didn’t run on back home after an hour.
So, we went into “recovery” mode. I opened the back door and made a loud production of pouring food into his food dish. My husband searched the yard and called his name. We left the door cracked open all night and put his cat bed out on the deck.
And we prayed.
But he didn’t come home. Not all that night. Not all the next day, even though I abandoned chores to trek through the woods calling his name and spent the rest of the day peering out the back windows watching for him to shoot up the stairs of the deck.
…Not even after I started to suggest to my daughters that maybe he wasn’t coming home and they invented adventure stories about how he made a new friend or went to kitty preschool or visited the cat doctor.
…Not after we bowed our heads as a family and each daughter and parent prayed that Oliver would come home.
At 2 a.m., though, I woke abruptly and fought the urge to roll back over and go back to sleep. I fumbled for my glasses and plodded in bare feet to the back door, expecting to see an empty deck.
Instead, I saw our orange cat nibbling at the food we’d left for him. He lifted his face to look at me as if nothing had ever happened, and when I opened up the door, he just tiptoed inside nonchalantly like it was no big deal whatsoever.
All that time he was gallivanting through the woods or maybe hunkered down somewhere trying to keep warm, I thought and prayed about this cat. Every time I walked outside,I thought about him.
And I’m not sure I ever really understood Jesus’ passionate, intense, and committed pursuit of the lost and the prodigals until now.
I was worried about a cat.
He’s concerned about people He loves enough to die for.
Sure, I read the parables in Luke 15. The Lost Coin. The Lost Sheep. The Lost Son (there’s that prodigal).
I thought I knew–Yes, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 HCSB).
But I really didn’t understand. Not the way that they would linger on His mind or how He’d put aside other agendas to pursue them or that He’d keep searching long after most of us would lose all hope.
He leaves the 99 sheep, to wander the hillside looking for the one stray.
He runs full speed toward the prodigal returning home and welcomes him in, celebrating rather than chastising.
And that woman who lost the one silver coin—I’ve been there. Turning on all the lights. Sweeping the whole house. Scripture says she would “search carefully until she finds it” (Luke 15:8). I don’t know what “carefully” looks like for her, but it sounds so methodical and orderly.
My searches look more like frantic overturning of dresser drawers, tossing things out of closets, sweeping papers off of desks and rumbling through junk all while whispering desperate prayers that God would just help this crazy woman find this oh-so-important-thing already!
I lose that for people too much of the time, that willingness to keep on relentlessly praying for the lost and the fervent intercession for and seeking out of the prodigals.
I struggle to confess–it’s ugly, but true—I think I felt more worry over my runaway cat and more desperation about finding missing pieces of paper than over the wayward and hurting around me.
And that needs to change.
Do you need to re-commit to praying for lost loved ones or loving the prodigals you know?
Originally published MARCH 22, 2013
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2015 Heather King
6 thoughts on “The One Thing I Forget To Pray About That Really Needs Prayer”
I know, I always identified with the OLDER brother in the parable. I was never (overtly at least) running away from my earthly OR my heavenly father. Then one day I saw the actual meaning of “Prodigal”. Nothing to do with running away OR returning, but “reckless, extravagantly wasteful” or something like that. Oh. I can be SO wasteful of Blessings, of Peace, of Joy, of my unlimited access to THE FATHER! Also, this new perception added another dimension to that story- the juxtaposition of BAD lavish spending vs. GOOD lavish spending. While the son did waste extravagantly, the father GAVE extravagantly, TWICE, and HE is the model for us in this parable. It’s clear from the telling that we are not only getting a vision of God, and how HE operates, but an example of how WE should operate as well. “Lavish” and “Extravagant” CAN be GOOD words, although, even now as I type them they make me cringe. Even now when I’m explaining the new learning I had, I realize that I’m still a total novice about this.
Cindy, this is so powerful—really striking thought to consider the difference between wasteful lavishness and extravagant generosity. I, too, have always identified more with that older brother, but reading what you had to say challenged me in a new way. Thank you so much for sharing this thought!
OH my goodness! Yes, I need to re-commit to praying for the lost loved ones. Thank you so much for this post.
Me too!! I need the periodic reminder to stay urgent when I pray for the lost!
Hey Heather -next time you’re coming my way check out my post “The day Flirty-Girty went missing!” Also about a pussks who got lost last Summer and how the story of the Lost Son features! Your post made me smile!! Thank you – Reuben
Cool! I’ll check it out!