It's Easter, although you'd never know it looking at all the snow outside after the hard winter up here in the Last Frontier.
My small terrier snuggles next to me while our two Alaskan huskies frolic without a care in the world, sparring with each other over a torn-up toy on the nice rug in the living room. I am reminded of a scripture I read in Ecclesiastes this morning as I watch them play: "There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under the sun ... There is a time to search and a time to lose ..."
Immediately, I think about Kenai, our cinnamon colored husky with spotty white socks which animal control officers almost deemed unadoptable. Obviously abused, she had no trust in people and zero confidence in herself. She was afraid of her shadow, door entries, and basically everything inside, including us. She parked herself on the new chair in the living room. For three months she ate, drank, slept and kept close watch on us. She only left it when we took her outside to go potty, and if we accidentally glanced at her head-on, she'd take care of business right then and there.
One cold and snowy night, we learned a lesson about searching and losing when we feared this one-sided love affair with Kenai had ended. Out on a walk, she got away, and with leash still attached, she bolted up and around our mountain. The more we called and chased and searched, the higher she climbed.
Our odd, middle of the night adventure rightly drew attention and frightened mountaintop neighbors who couldn't see our faces, so they called troopers who eventually arrived, confronting us, guns raised. They listened to our story, then told us they saw a dog with a leash running further down the mountain ... near our home ... which she obviously felt was also hers, given she returned there on her own hours later.
All this for a dog that reciprocated zero affection toward us. Even still, we risked our lives and limbs and comfort because we loved her without condition and pure heartedly believed that someday love would win and break through that fear-frozen shell of a dog.
Five hours later, with fireplace crackling and the very loved shell of a dog curled back up in her chair, I realized I'd learned something big about God's love that night.
God showed us that there is a time to search and lose: God sought me before I knew him. He reached out to me before I trusted him. He loved me before I knew how to love him back. He voluntarily "lost" his son when Jesus died for me before I was born and had the chance to sin. And he rose from the grave to give me life before I turned from my ways and gave my life to him.
Three challenging years later, what joy it brings to my soul to see this happy, free-at-last pup play and eat and rest and beg to be petted, seemingly without a care in the world. And what joy it must bring the Father, when his children finally come to understand that they are loved deeply ... richly ... unconditionally ... fully.
This is Easter: "But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)