Thirty-two years ago I married into a family of “animists” who carried their dogs around on satin pillows and adjusted their lives to accommodate their canines as members of the family. But I never had much use for dogs with their bad breath, their incessant barking and their slimy slobbering. And I thought I was entitled to my own preferences.
Then came Christmas in 2001. Sarah, our daughter, and her husband, Sean, wanted to bring their black Lab, Bear, home for Christmas. We sat in their living room having the inevitable dog discussion. I didn’t want a frisky dog toppling my Christmas trees and barking at every exercise enthusiast trotting down our street.
As the conversation grew tense, into the room sauntered my son, Bill, who was then serving as a leader in the TACF School of Ministry. Coincidentally, it was inner healing week at the school and Bill’s discernment radar was finely tuned to detect the slightest whiff of bitter root judgment or ungodly belief. Before I knew it, my own son went for my emotional jugular vein.
“Mom, is there something in your past that makes you dislike dogs?” I suddenly knew I was his next victim.
“Think hard, Mom. Did you have a bad experience with dogs when you were a kid?” in a tone that sounded as though my childhood was so far in the past that it had occurred somewhere between Noah and Abraham.
I thought for a moment, and then I saw myself as a five-year-old girl coming out of a house in Alvin, Texas where our family had been visiting on a Sunday afternoon. As my sister and I descended the concrete steps, a large black dog ran up beside us barking and growling.
Summoning the worst words two little sheltered Baptist girls could muster, we resorted to rebuking the big, black monster with childish bathroom terminology.
“Where were your parents when this happened?” Bill probed further.
I remembered them sitting in the car laughing at the scene, not realizing in the humor of the moment how frightened we were. From their adult perspective, the dog wasn’t big at all. But to us, he seemed like Godzilla.
Then Bill moved in for the kill. “Mom, will you forgive your parents for not protecting you in the situation?” It seemed like too simple thing to really matter, but I co-operated and forgave.
With surgical skill Bill queried further, “Now Mom, can you see Jesus in the picture? What is He doing?”
I couldn’t “see” Jesus in the picture, but suddenly, the tender voice of God penetrated a cold area of my heart with the simple admonition, “I made dogs.”
At the voice of God my long- tolerated fear of dogs evaporated thawing the icy spot that had walled them out of my affection. In place of disdain for them, I began to feel warmly toward the little creatures.
So Bear, my “grand-dog,” came for Christmas. She didn’t bump into my Christmas trees or bark at a single exercise enthusiast. Instead she “wrapped me around her paw.” I found myself buying doggy treats and looking forward to seeing her when I came home from the store.
I remember hearing a prophet prophesy about this move of God in 1982. He said, “It’s going to be a day when God will leave no stone unturned.” I never dreamed that He would turn over this one.
Healing the body, soul and spirit is our topic this month. You’d better soak as you read. God just may turn over some stones in your life, too.
Originally Published April/May 2003 Editor Melinda Fish