“Here, kitty, kitty! Here, kitty, kitty!” Brandon called over and over again. Mother went to the back door. “Brandon, it’s getting dark now. Come inside.”
“But, Mommy, one of the kittens is missing from the box!” Brandon ran to the porch. “See?” he said. “One, two, three, four, five. They’re all here except Mandy.”
“But how can you tell which one is missing?” asked Daddy, joining them on the porch. “They all look alike.”
“Oh, no,” said Brandon. “They are all the same color, but each one is a little different from the others, and I know that Mandy is the missing one.”
“But you should come inside now,” said Daddy. “The kitten will be all right. She’ll probably come back during the night. I’ll check later to see if she’s here.”
“But I can’t go to bed until I find her,” insisted Brandon. “If I were missing, wouldn’t you worry about me?”
“Of course, we would!” said Daddy. “I’ll tell you what—let’s get the flashlight and look for the kitten together.”
They searched under the back porch, under the bushes, and everywhere else that they thought a frightened kitten might hide. But they couldn’t find Mandy anywhere.
“It’s getting very late,” said Daddy. “We really should go back in.”
“Wait, Daddy. Listen! Did you hear that?”
Daddy stopped and listened.
“I hear Mandy crying. Do you hear her, Daddy?”
Sure enough, there was a faint “Mew! Mew!” coming from somewhere.
“Up, Daddy—shine the light up.”
Daddy shone the flashlight above them, and there was the tiny kitten on a limb of the mulberry tree.
Daddy called, “Here, kitty, kitty! Here, Mandy!”
But the kitten only cried louder. “Mew! Mew!”
“I’ll climb up and get her,” Brandon offered. “I climb this tree all the time.”
While Daddy held the flashlight, Brandon climbed to the limb where the kitten was. But she pulled away.
“She’s very frightened,” said Daddy. “She needs to know that she can trust you.”
Brandon slowly stretched out his hand as he said softly, “Here, Mandy.”
When Mandy didn’t move, Brandon patted Mandy’s head. “Here, Mandy,” he said again. Then very slowly he slipped his hand under Mandy’s chest and lifted her to his shoulder. She clung tightly to his jacket as he climbed back down.
Later, when Mandy was safely back in the box on the porch and Daddy was tucking Brandon into bed, Daddy said, “You know, this reminds me of a story about Jesus.”
“You mean Jesus had a kitten that got lost?” Brandon asked in surprise.
“No,” said Daddy. “But he told a story about a shepherd who had many sheep. One little lamb got lost, and the shepherd didn’t rest until he found it and brought it back to be with the others.
“Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, and we are his lambs. The Bible says that he knows every lamb by name, just like you know each of those kittens. And just like you love those kittens so much that you wanted to make sure that they were all safe before you went to bed, Jesus watches over us and wants to keep us safe.”
“I like being called a lamb,” said Brandon. “And I’m glad Jesus loves me so much.”