(This post was originally shared on 2/4/2016. When it popped up in my “memory feed” today, it seemed appropriate to re-share; both as a tribute to my sweet Bailey and because I think we are all kinda at the point of needing to lay our heads in God’s lap for awhile….)
Bailey, my sweet golden retriever, has had a hard week. A large cyst ruptured on her back, requiring emergency surgery. She now has six inches worth of stitches surrounded by a massive patch of shaved skin.
My super-sympathetic husband has started calling her Franken-dog!
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 adorable 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.
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.
As I sat there with Bailey nestled on my lap, my mind flashed back to a time I felt nestled on 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 the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment I had ever experienced. And I couldn’t quite process it all.
Witnessing an actual life and death experience made my normal college routine seem rather meaningless. On top of dealing with huge feelings, I was also sick, extremely tired, and struggling to keep up with my classes. One night it all became too much for me to handle.
Like a weight crushing me.
I decided (in hindsight, I realize it was the Holy Spirit leading me) to write a letter to a good friend. Pouring my heart out, 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.)
Setting the letter aside, I began to sob, alone and broken. Darkness all around. Emptiness threatening to consume me. I curled up in a ball and called out to God, “Daddy, it hurts so much. I can’t do this. Please hold me. Please don’t let go.”
I can barely describe what happened in that moment. A flood of peace rushed over me, as the arms of love wrapped around me. Holding me in a heavenly embrace. My tears eventually subsided as faint memories of hymns wafted through my mind. And as sleep overshadowed my consciousness, I dreamed all night long of Jesus smoothing my hair and wiping my tears, as I lay curled up beside Him—my head resting on His lap.
That moment of darkness led to such a marvelous light.
Today, as I held my sweet dog on my lap, God took me back to that night so long ago when He held my broken heart on His.
Bailey has been through an ordeal and she doesn’t understand why. 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…a result of the fallen, broken, sinful world in which we live.
But can God bring good from bad? Absolutely! And He will.
So many people are hurting right now….feeling broken, tired, and worn. My prayer is that we will find comfort in the arms of our gracious heavenly Father. That we will snuggle onto His lap, feel Him smooth our hair as we cry, hold us fast in His arms, and envelope us in a blanket of pure peace.
Will you go to Him even now? Let your heart snuggle in beside Him, lay your weary head in His lap, and trust Him to hold you.
He loves you sweet friend….more than you could ever begin to fathom!