Seeing a glimpse of God’s heart when my dog plopped onto my lap.
Bailey, my poor golden retriever, has had a hard week. A large cyst on her back ruptured, requiring emergency surgery. She now has six inches worth of stitches surrounded by a massive patch of shaved skin. My husband calls her Frankendog, and it certainly fits. Obviously, I can’t sit my dog down and explain wound care to her. She doesn’t know that by scratching her stitches she will pull them out. So we have to keep an ace bandage wrapped around her chest, and because my kids think it is cute, we also put a t-shirt on her. The look is both cute and pitiful.
As if the stitches were not bad enough, Bailey began obsessively licking the shaved skin on her front leg where the IV had been. Her licking caused a giant sore to form. We aren’t sure if she was licking because of pain, stress, or boredom, but the fact was she licked her wound so much that it created a bigger wound, and earned her the cone of shame.
Pitiful right? We have been treating her wounds, giving her medicine, and putting her various apparatus on all week. However, yesterday God allowed me to see a glimpse of His heart in the midst of my daily dog care routine.
We had put all the paraphernalia on her before leaving the house that morning, then I came home at lunch time to check on her. I found a pitiful looking dog desperate for a break from the dark and cumbersome cone. I sat down on the kitchen floor and removed every piece of material that was on her- allowing her to feel unhindered for a few moments. As soon as the last bandage was unwrapped she threw herself onto my lap and began making a symphony of doggie noises. She wrapped her paws around my leg and would not move.
So where’s the glimpse of God in that you might ask? Don’t worry….it took me a moment to see it too.
As I sat there with Bailey nestled in my lap, my mind flashed back to a time I felt nestled into God’s lap. It was my junior year in college and I was a mess. My best friend’s father had recently died from cancer. It was devastating to all who loved him, and who had prayed so fervently for his healing. I had the honor of being in the room with his family as we watched the Lord welcome him into His eternal arms. It was beautiful but heartbreaking at the same time, and I couldn’t quite process it all. That actual life and death experience made my normal college routine seem rather meaningless. On top of dealing with huge feelings, I was also sick and extremely tired. One night it all became too much for me to handle. I felt like a weight was beginning to crush me. I decided (in hindsight, I realize it was the Holy Spirit leading me) to write a letter to a good friend. I poured my heart out in that letter. I wrote about my experience, my feelings, and my fears. I wrote and wrote until I felt empty. (Later, as a grief counselor, I would learn about the healing that can come just from writing your story, but this night I was simply writing to a friend.)
I then began to sob. I was all alone in my room and I felt broken. Darkness was all around me, emptiness threatened to consume me. I curled up in a ball and called out to Jesus. “Daddy, it hurts. It hurts so bad. I can’t do this. Please hold me.” I can barely describe what happened in that moment. I felt a flood of peace pour over me. And I honestly felt the arms of love wrap around me, as if holding me in an embrace. The crying began to subside as faint memories of hymns sang through my mind. But the most beautiful memory is of drifting off to sleep and dreaming of Jesus smoothing my hair and wiping my tears as I laid my head in His lap. That moment of darkness led to such a marvelous light.
As I held my sweet dog in my lap, God took me back to that night so long ago when He held me in His. Bailey has been through an ordeal and she doesn’t understand, but I do and I am only doing what is best for her. In the same way, we can’t always understand God’s ways, but we can trust that He is ultimately working for our good and that He will hold us through the times that threaten to break our hearts. Was there anything good about my friend’s dad dying so young. Not at all. Cancer is awful and a result of this fallen world in which we live. But can God bring good from bad? Absolutely and He will.
So many friends right now are hurting and feeling broken, tired, and worn. My prayer is that you may find comfort in the arms of your heavenly Abba Father. That you would snuggle into His lap, and ask Him to smooth your hair as you cry. Let Him hold you in His arms of Love, and envelope you in a blanket of pure peace.
Praying for my hurting friends today.