Snappy, though seemingly nowhere to be found, has become a celebrity of sorts throughout the suburbs of Boston. She has her own Facebook page with over 2,000 followers. Snappy is a four year old weimeraner (large grey dog.) Her whereabouts are unknown since the day she disappeared (in my town) nearly three months ago. Her owner is desperate to find her. The owner has appeared on the news, commandeered concerned citizens to print and post posters all over the surrounding towns, initiated robocalls throughout nearby communities and employed a professional canine tracker flown in from Nebraska to help with the search.
Within any given mile within a 20 mile radius you will likely encounter a poster entitled “Find Snappy.” Feeding stations and video cameras have been placed along a route in the woods she is thought to be traveling. During the time period that Snappy has been lost this part of the country has experienced an earthquake, a hurricane, a nor’easter and some cold temperatures. If that is not challenging enough for her survival- coyotes are known to prowl around these same areas. I’ve even seen one walking down our street.
Yet, Snappy’s owner has not given up the search for her. She longs to bring her home. Snappy’s faithful Facebook followers post daily comments of support to Snappy and her owner. Some have told of specific daily prayer times where they pray for her safe return. I confess that I know these things only because as a dog lover I was sucked in to Snappy’s plight and am also her “Facebook friend.” Some have walked and driven many miles in search of the lost animal. While I haven’t done that, I do stay on the lookout for her as I go about my daily activities.
Snappy’s drama has captivated the attention of many. The owners have gone to a lot of time and expense to find their dog. I am reminded from the seemingly trivial (in comparison) pursuit of Snappy – of God’s continual search for the lost. I am deeply inspired and challenged.
” ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.  I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.  I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
And Jesus, God in the flesh reiterates this message in the account of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”
 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (emphasis added)
I am challenged by Snappy’s owner’s relentless pursuit of her well-loved dog. I ask myself how much time, trouble, thought, prayer, perseverance and expense am I willing to give as I look at others through Jesus’ eyes. He saw that they were harassed, and helpless like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). I know that every individual’s world without God is a rough and dark place…much worse than the physical challenges of hurricanes, earthquakes and nor’easters…and Satan’s intense pursuit of mankind is compared to that of a lion instead of a coyote. So many people around me are without hope, forgiveness, direction and a purpose that counts and will last a hundred years from now. I am challenged to love others as Jesus loves as he commands me in John 13:34 and shows me in Matthew 18:12-14
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Yes, I hope Snappy is found. However, more importantly I pray to speak and act toward other humans with more of the urgency and compassion found in Jesus’ heart.