Truth: You are loved.
“The dog” had been adopted from the local pound only 12 hours earlier and hadn’t even been named when he slipped out of the house as his new “mommy” left for work. Our son and his wife tried chasing him, scoured the area, and alerted friends and the staff at the pound. But over days and weeks, they heard nothing. And “the dog” didn’t come back.
This adoption was an attempt to fill a huge hole left in the family when beloved Echo, aging and going deaf, was hit by a car and killed on Thanksgiving Day.
Too much sadness at dogs leaving, and the kids didn’t try again. Just focused on living without feeding and walking and playing with a dog.
After a month, a call came from a vet. “The dog you adopted has just been found 35 miles away. He’s in very bad shape and even with a couple surgeries may not survive. Do you want us to put him down?”
Karl and Sandy went to see the dog, learned the vet’s prognosis, and discussed if they could afford the expected $2000+ for the surgeries. Apparently this frightened animal had been hit and dragged by a vehicle, assaulted by a pack of coyotes, and been limping around scrounging for food for a month. For some reason, they told the vet to fix the damaged and dislocated hip, clean his wounds, surgically repair where his tail had been severed, and do the dental and plastic surgery to his muzzle so he could eat and drink normally.
After weeks of recovery, the dog, still so accustomed to being unable to use his left hind leg, he never tried to do so after healing. The kids took to gently rubbing and stretching it, and using a trick they learned about. By leaving the leash on even while in the house, the dog was often forced to use the leg he was favoring. They very tenderly encouraged, coaxed, and comforted while trying to make the dog do something he clearly did not want to do.
Now that dog does everything a normal dog does ~ and more. He follows close behind Sandy or Karl, and is happiest curled at the foot of whichever one is seated. Once he sits on the feet of his chosen “healer,” he leans into their legs and finally relaxes. And in tribute to the experience, they named the dog Achilles.
In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes (as if Jesus’ words) “You are really just beginning your journey of intimacy with Me. It is not an easy road, but … The Glory of My Presence glistens … along the way. Hardships are part of the journey too. I mete them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine. …”
So, friends, whatever your hardship is today ~ waiting for a reluctant teenager to share their struggle, pain talking at you and preventing sleep, facing Valentine’s Day knowing your loved one is no longer here to share those special rituals … I hope you can sense the tender hands stretching your vision, soft voice speaking comfort … and know our hardships are meted out in just the right dosage to tenderly lead us to some place better. I hope you can lean into your healer and rest with peace. Because if Karl and Sandy would invest so much time, money, and love into a battered, nameless dog, how much more tenderness will God display with each of us?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither to they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? [Matthew 6:26, KJV]
If you need more encouragement this Valentine’s Day, visit Lysa TerKeurst’s 5 Ways to Survive Love Season.
*photo credit, rocky road – Aurel Duka, others – Karl & Mary Kay Moody