“Uh oh!” I blurted out as my daughter Jenna and I approached the rabbit hutch. Worries for Lily started the moment I saw the cage door standing open. Just because we couldn’t see her didn’t mean she wasn’t there. She could have been sleeping in the enclosed part of her pen. But when I popped open her bedroom door I knew we were in trouble. No one there! Jenna’s big blue eyes began to pool with tears.
I said, “Let’s get a move on and look for her! She can’t be too far, right? Before we get started, let’s pray.”
I grabbed her little four-year-old hands right there in front of Lily’s house, we bowed our heads and prayed: Dear Jesus, You who created Lily, know exactly where she is. Please open our eyes to see which direction she went so we can put her safely back into her cage. Thank you Jesus! Amen.
My thoughts went south at Amen and doubt began to creep in. What if God didn’t answer our prayers? What if Lily is never found? How much damage would this do to my children’s youthful faith. Jenna’s brother and sister were due home from school in about an hour. How would they take the news?
Jenna and I canvassed the entire yard more than once, but to no avail. We gave up and went inside.
Our rabbit adventure started when my three children, D.J., Kim, and Jenna inherited two Dutch bunnies, a hutch, and all of the needed supplies from a friend. Jack and Lily (based on the movie Legend) taught my children a thing or two about life right away. We figured out quick that if you don’t want a lot more than two bunnies you can’t leave Jack, the big brown and white banded boy, with Lily, the delicate white girl with black splotches alone in the same cage. We watched Lily pull the fur off her belly to make a super soft bed in preparation for the arrival of her precious little babies.
The children loved the new members of our rabbit family. After they were covered with fur and up hopping around and eating on their own, we played with them a lot. All three kids loved to take them out onto the front lawn and watch our border collie herd them up so no one would get lost.
“You know kids, we don’t have enough room to keep Lily and Jack’s babies. If we did no telling how many rabbits we would have.”
They seemed to understand. With minimal complaints, off to the Pet Store we went to trade our baby bunnies in for a separate hutch for Jack. The Pet Shop loved receiving dual profits; free adorable critters to sell, who were calm and used to being held, plus the sale of a new cage.
Now here we sit with one empty cage and another one filled with poor, lonely Jack.
I heard the rush of the school bus’s diesel engine roar by and knew Kim and D.J. would walk through the door at any moment.
After our greetings and shedding of backpacks I said, “We have some bad news. Jenna and I went out to the rabbit hutches earlier and the door to Lily’s cage was accidentally left open. She has escaped and ran away. We prayed and looked around for quite a while, but could not find her. I’m so sorry.”
“Mommy, D.J. and I haven’t had a chance yet to try and find her. Why don’t we look for her again?” Kim said.
D.J. nodded in agreement. As I saw the worry well up in my children’s hearts I continued to doubt God would answer our prayer to find Lily, but I decided it would be best to repeat the prayer Jenna and I had prayed earlier—then we hurried out the back door in search of Lily.
We weren’t to the bottom of the back-deck stairs before I heard D.J. scream, “There she is!”
I couldn’t believe it! Lily, right there near the bottom of the steps munching on grass after Jenna and I had looked everywhere for her only an hour earlier. Kim scooped her up.
“I’m so glad you came back, Lily” she said, holding her close to her cheek. “You were a bad girl to run away! Jesus answered our prayer, Mommy.”
“He sure did,” I said, wondering why I ever doubted.
“I want a turn holding her” D.J. said.
“Me too,” Jenna said. “Lily, you were a bad, bad girl; don’t ever do that again!”
After the gentle scolding, things began to settle down. We placed Lily back into her hutch with extra care focused on closing her door latch. Everyone wanted to make sure Lily remained safely tucked away.
The kids may have learned a lesson on how not to be careless, but we all learned something important about God from Lily that day. Our trustworthy God hears us when we pray and is willing and able to help us through any obstacle we face.
Yes, I’ve lived long enough to know that God’s answers are not always a happy ending, like with Lily, but through that escapee rabbit He taught me that when I’m faithful to teach my children about Him and encourage prayer, even when I doubt, He loves them more than I do and can grow their faith more effectively than I ever could. And when I worry about how my children’s faith will be affected from hearing the answer, “No, not this time,” I can rest assured that His answers and timing are uniquely designed for each one of them. Little actions, like leaving a cage door unhooked, or the bigger ones that come later—who to date or what to do when offered that first drink—are covered by God’s sovereign grace. When we do family God’s way, we can’t lose.