Lost But Not Forgotten



     It was the end of May.  Ruth and Lenny were enjoying the bright, summer day, when Dad and Mom said, “Time to go and bring up the cows.”

     The cows were out somewhere in the 60-plus wooded acres, and it was getting late in the day.  It was time for them to be herded into the barn for milking.

     Ruthie was in her early teens and her sister, Lenny, was six years younger.  They had done this task before.  It was a routine job, but Dad and Mom had warned them never to go through the fence, and if they ever got lost, they were to follow the fence line.

     So today they started on their way, searching for a newly trodden cow path.  Just a few steps ahead was Skipper, the family farm dog.  This was his daily chore also.  Soon they found some cow tracks.  Ruthie called, “Come boss, come boss,” and listened for the sound of clanging bells.  The cows wore collars with bells, so when they walked or ate, the bells would clang and alert their owners of where they were.  The girls did not hear any bells.

     Then it was Lenny’s turn.  “Come boss, come boss,” she called.  Still no bells.  They decided the cows must be a long ways into the woods.  They would just have to keep walking.

     Along the path, the girls spotted some May flowers.  “Oh,” exclaimed Lenny, “wouldn’t they be nice to take home to Mom to put on the table?”  Ruthie agreed, so they started picking the wildflowers.  There were nice little sprigs here and there.  But while the flowers God had created were ever so pretty, the temptation of picking them had taken the girls off the narrow path of safety they had been following.  Soon Ruthie decided they did not know for sure where they were.  They were lost!

     They continued walking, but they were growing weary, and the sun was getting lower in the western sky.  Soon they came to a big swamp.  Ruthie knew it was in the northwest corner of the pasture.  They had to go in the opposite direction.  They started out on a path while trying to keep the fence line in view and still avoiding the boggy swamp, but soon they were right back at the same spot of the swamp from which they had left.  Lenny was getting scared, and Ruthie was becoming desperate.  Silently Ruthie breathed a prayer to God Who cares for His children and always hears their pleas of distress.

     Suddenly a thought came to Ruthie’s mind.  She spoke to Skipper, “Skipper, take us home.” Skipper immediately went under the fence at a point where there was not much water.  The girls remembered their parents’ warnings, but there were other considerations.  The water was higher in the spring, and the fence could not be followed all the way through the swamp.  Night was coming on, and they were tired and thirsty.

     The girls decided to follow their family friend.  He seemed to know just where he was going.  Soon they came to a familiar opening in the woods.  It was a road, and Ruthie and Lenny knew right where they were.  They were about two miles from home.  God had used Skipper to lead them to safety.

     When the girls got close to home, they heard the cowbells.  The cows had heard the girls calling them earlier and had found their way home.

     Sometimes, as children of God, temptations can cause us to lose our way.  We get off the narrow path of safety.  But if we seek the Lord, He will find a way to bring us back home to His flock, even though it may be the long way around.