I can only imagine what she was thinking. She went out the basement door to do her business. When she came back the door was closed. She probably thought, “That's never happened before. Where did my father go?” She may have barked, "Let me in. I'm here."
Our 6-year-old golden retriever, Anna, may have waited a few minutes. Then she probably sat down thinking, "he'll be back." Of course, after 10 minutes it may have occurred to her that sometimes her dad came out the door on the front side of the house.
Bounding up the side yard, she probably came around the corner of the house excited at the prospect of being let in again. I am sad to say that I let her down. I had become distracted. I was running from place to place. I had forgotten her and was on the road to my next stop.
Disappointed, feeling lost and abandoned she probably set off to find me. A short time later Anna was discovered wandering down the street. The animal control officer was alerted and he safely escorted her to our animal shelter in town where she spent the night.
I am embarrassed to tell this story. Yet it struck me that Anna's story is one that many of us have experienced at some point. One day we turn around and find that a door has closed. We feel our Father, God, has abandoned us. We are lost, out in the cold and afraid.
Years ago I had a friend who was battling cancer. He always had a strong faith. Then one day he told me that he felt God had abandoned him. He was so sick and not getting better. He prayed but he could not feel God's presence. He said he felt so alone. I wanted to cry.
Life can be difficult. So many people are facing challenges. For some, Christmas only adds to the pain. Everyone is so happy. Yet, they feel lost and forgotten. If this is you, then I want to tell you the rest of Anna's story. Despite how it looked, I never stopped loving Anna.
I went wild that night trying to find her. I went house to house, knocking on doors, looking for her. I made phone calls and finally learned that she had been found and was safe for the night. In the morning I raced down to pick her up and I promised I'd never leave her again.
That, my friends, is the story of Christmas. God sees our pain. He feels our loneliness. In that manger in Bethlehem he made a statement that said, “I love you. I will be with you. I will walk with you and no matter what may come, I will never leave you or abandon you."
That's why the angels sang and shepherds rejoiced.
That's why the magi came.
This was the good news of great joy. So if you are feeling a little lost right now, hold on. Anna wants you to know that our Father has not forgotten you. He will find you and make his joy, your joy.
Merry Christmas! See you in church.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly.