I have had a heart for underdogs as long as I can remember, and my specialty concerning homeless dogs is the disabled, handicapped, dying, blind, deaf, and medically needy. Just as some animal rescue workers prefer to work with the healthy and most adoptable, I prefer to work with the ones in most dire need. Then along comes Happy Honey, as I like to call her. I adopted her out several years ago – before I founded Walk by Faith Ministry and began to focus increasingly on the special needs dogs. By the time she was returned to me, I was no longer prepared to deal with a super happy, super healthy, highly adoptable, young and healthy dog. She was returned for the exact reason I discovered immediately I did not want her back.
Honey was too much for her owner’s baby. The baby was overwhelmed by her size, and Honey responded to the baby’s concerns with joy, energy, and exuberance – just what the baby did not need to compound his already established intimidation. Though I was not intimidated by her size, the last thing in the world I needed with my hands and heart already full of dogs (including the special needs “kids”) was a boisterous, exuberant, wonderfully happy and energetic dog. So I made it plain and clear to the Lord, to my friends, to the public, to absolutely any dog or human that would listen, that I had no intention whatsoever of loving Happy Honey. This dog that I would not love started her return to my life as a thorn in my side.
But just this morning, I saw the rose that she is – as the Lord has used her to blossom in me something that He has desired for longer than I could possibly remember. My father in Christ, Pastor Freddie, once told me that God was using someone who was mistreating me to perfect love in me. Little did I know how the Lord would use numerous dogs throughout my life to teach me lessons in love, faith, hope, prayer, and so much more. The dog that I would not love – Happy Honey – was not merely yet another dog that needs a safe and loving home. She was, and is, a reminder that the Lord does not merely call us to love those that are easy to love. He calls us to love. Period.
But how? How could I love a dog that has brought so much stress to me? How could I love a dog that requires more of me than I have time and energy to give? How could I love a dog that was an instant burden in my eyes when she came back into my life? The answer is not about impossibility. The answer is that with God ALL things are possible (Mt. 19:26 KJV). I may not have the love in my human flesh to love those I do not want to love, but God in me through faith in Jesus Christ has all the love I need to love. Period. God does not give me conditional love to love a world in need. He gives me His own unconditional love – through me – to love the world He created.
So what exactly happened this morning? As I held Honey’s collar to move her through the early morning darkness from her sleeping quarters inside to her fenced yard to prepare her for breakfast, I saw again what I had discovered over the past few days. Though I want as much as ever to place her into an adoptive safe and loving home, I love her with all my heart. I give all glory to God for this, for I could not love her in my own flesh. I could not. I would not. I was too bound in selfishness, moaning, and murmuring to see the gift God had given me. His love. He had, and has, given me all that I need to do His will – most importantly His love through faith in His Son Jesus.
I am now more excited than ever to see Honey adopted. This time, unlike times in the past when I was thrilled to adopt out dogs that I would not love so that the burden would fall off of me, I will be able to say goodbye to her with love and gratitude. I will know that she will not leave my care with a sad and rejected look on her face that will haunt me as it mirrors my sin of refusing to love. Instead, I will give her a goodbye doggie hug, my usual prayer, and know in my heart that God used me as His vessel to pour His love through to a broken world – humans and animals included. The dog that I would not love will not leave my care not knowing my love. More importantly, she will not leave my care not knowing His love. His love that endures forever will have poured into and through us both – ready to be passed on to others as we cross paths with His world so desperately in need of Him.
Mat 19:26 “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1Jn 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
If you live in the Low Country, SC/GA, and are interested in fostering or adopting Honey or any of our other dogs, please e-mail email@example.com or call 843-338-2219.