Blankets are warm. Blankets are comfortable. Some are wool. Some are cotton. They come in many colors. Sizes. Even shapes. Some are handmade. Some are quilts. Some get spit out of factories. Some get stained. Others are thrown away. They have different purposes sometimes. Blankets have a life of their own. They cover people. They lie under some. Some help keep dogs warm in shelters. Some blankets are handed down through generations. I have had more blankets than most, I would imagine. After all, I use them for myself as well as all the dogs in my care. They are donated to me. Some are thrown away. Some the dogs shred. One blanket had a hole big enough for my beagle Speckles to poke her head through and wear as a dress. Just this morning, I came across a blanket so special I cannot help but share the story. It is not just a story about a blanket. It is a story of victory – a story of triumph. This blanket’s story is all about Jesus, and what a special blanket it is.
A dear friend recently donated an extra tall dog gate so I could keep some of the dogs in their special room while keeping the door open to better circulate the heat and air conditioning. I was so excited to cure my air circulation issue that I did not consider the ramifications of what the open door would mean for me. For anyone involved in dog rescue who has experienced being responsible for 15 dogs 24-7, they know there are times we canine caretakers can stand on the precipice of going over the edge – of getting simply dogged out, for lack of a better description. Too many dogs, too much of the time, too much work, dogs, dogs, dogs. So I addressed that issue – at least in part – by not allowing dogs in small parts of my life, such as the living room and dining area. Suffice it to say, every once in a while I need a breather from dogs.
The arrival of my new – and awesome – dog gate came with another arrival, and surprise. I had not considered what it would be like to have the dogs peering through the gate at me when I am taking some time away from the dogs. Of course, the first discovery the dogs made with the addition of the gate is that they could do exactly that – especially when I am eating my meals in “peace and quiet.” Just this past week, to top it all off, I moved my laptop and eating area to the portion of my living room right next to the gate so that I can keep the dogs company while working – but keep them away from the computer.
So what does any of this have to do with my special blanket? I have candidly shared in the past few years with those who read my work that I have struggled with loving the world around me unconditionally with the love of God. When I have been hurt, stressed out, clogged with bitterness, filled with wrong thoughts, etc., I have struggled to love. And yet, I have known that above all else I am called to love the Lord with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. I am quite sure God wants me to extend this love to His Creation, including my precious canine caboodle.
I readily admit that when the dogs started peering through the gate at me, with one dogs making his sniffing noises, I started becoming annoyed – especially as I ate my meals. Rather than shut the door, which I could have done, I allowed myself to become annoyed. Slowly, but surely, I became irritated, upset, and boom – out the window went the love. I love the Lord so much and am so dedicated to learning to follow Him that I become quickly convicted when I do something wrong. I hate when I find myself not loving, and I repent quickly. Not only do I want forgiveness, but I want to learn to do things right – particularly when it comes to loving with God’s love.
This morning, something wonderful happened. In my morning prayers, I had asked the Lord to lead me today – and to help me to allow Him to lead. Little did I know what He has had in store thus far. As I prepared my favorite yummy oatmeal and grits cereal on the stove and sat at my laptop beginning my Bible study, the dogs started their peering routine. And, completely to my surprise, I stood up, walked over to the big piles of blankets, and plucked out a mint green blanket donated to the ministry just days ago. I carefully placed the blanket on the ground, with love, and walked away. Now the dogs could lie down right next to the gate and be comfortable. I had reached out in love rather than retaliate with selfishness and resentment.
Immediately, the dogs settled down on the blanket. And, in my heart, I melted. With utter thanksgiving, I realized what had happened. I had allowed the Lord to lead. After several years of desperately wanting to learn to love, and having countless opportunities to practice this along with innumerable failures at doing so, I realize my not giving up has opened the door for what seemed impossible. I am learning to love, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
My special blanket really has nothing special about it when it comes to its appearance. It is mint green. The color is fine. I am not sure of the fabric; I did not pay attention. It has some sort of ribbing on the outside. It is not particularly huge, nor small. It is not plush, nor is it too thin. It is rather ordinary. But really, it is not ordinary at all. My special blanket is a testimony of the marvelous work the Lord is doing inside my heart and life.
As I get ready to eat my oatmeal, and write this testimony, I look through the bars of my new dog gate to regard what for me is nothing short of a miracle. Not only are the dogs at perfect peace snoozing on God’s special blanket, but I did not get annoyed today. Instead, led by the Lord, I loved. And am loving. And will continue to love.
Through my faith in Jesus, I am learning that what seemed impossible is totally possible. What was an ordinary blanket is now a reminder of God’s extraordinary love for me and for His Creation. And it is a reminder of His extraordinary grace when it comes to empowering me to learn to live my life the way He intended. In love. In Christ. To God be all glory.
Precious God, THANK YOU for teaching me to love. Thank you for this very special blanket. Thank you for all the dogs you have placed in my care, some of whom are happily dozing on this blanket. Thank you for blanketing us in your love. Please help me to continue to be led by you. Thank you for being the best leader that ever was, that is, and this ever will be. I love you with all my heart. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, and for not leaving me in my mess. You could have left me in the place where I could not love. But instead, you are filling me with your love, offering me your grace and mercy, and teaching me to love like you do. Bless you, bless you, bless you, my precious Lord! AMEN.
Mar 12:30 KJV “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Mar 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”