Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lessons from a Dog That Should Have Died

This is not Monkey but I couldn't cut and paste from the video. This is Lucas, a shelter dog with no loving family of his own.

Once again, God has used a dog to inspire my black little heart.

Had been in a bad funk for a very long time, whining & kvetching about all kinds of problems, asking God why He hadn't healed me of my mental anguish, feeling that I'd asked for a cure and gotten the cold grey face of Mt. Rushmore. Nothing was happening. I wasn't changing, I had no peace, no joy, no sense of purpose or use. I felt completely abandoned, alone, utterly isolated.

I felt like a rat that has been tortured, pinched for good measure and then left for dead in a cold puddle of its own blood.

Then I came across this Youtube video of Monkey the dog. This was a young, medium-sized mixed breed dog that was apparently rescued from a situation where it had been starved and (unbelievable how common this is) had its collar embedded so deeply into its neck that only surgery could remove it.

The dog was in such poor condition it was supposed to be euthanized. I could not get the whole story because there was no voice-over but for some reason the vet and tech there decided to try and save Monkey. I saw the video of this dog on the table when she was brought in. Her wounds were gangrenous and so deep they appeared to go right through the neck into her throat. She was starved down to bone. I would have thought it a mercy to give her a quick death.

But these women at the clinic thought this shredded, almost-dead dog no one wanted, was worth saving. They went through the surgery, then spent months debriding, putting salve on, unwrapping and re-wrapping the wounds.

Monkey, for her part, accepted their care with quiet submission. At first her eyes were swollen and far-off, as if she was ready to leave this earth. She let the people do their work without a hint of confusion or fear. As the weeks went by, you could see trust and gratitude coming into her eyes. I'm sure she didn't quite understand what all the bandaging and wrapping her head up like a nun were about, but she trusted them and understood they had her best interest at heart. She was in severe pain but she never once snapped or behaved badly toward the people.

Slowly, she began to smile. A little curve on the side of that mouth. Her tail started wagging 100mph. Still with her head wrapped over her gaping wounds, she jumped for treats, learned commands, even befriended a pitbull in a wheelchair. She put her head into the armpits of the women caring for her.

At the end, Monkey was adopted by a loving woman. She got a (loose!) pink collar engraved with the word "Spoiled." Her wound became a small, puckered bit of skin on her neck. Most of her fur grew back in around her neck.

I cried watching the transformation. And then realized, God, if that isn't an allegory for me...on both ends. I give up so easily, don't even know what adversity is. So ready to throw in the towel, lose all hope. Yet He is working, healing the mental abrasions that poke through into my soul. This takes time; as the dog was bound to allow its neck to heal, so too must He bind me from aggravation as He heals deep wounds.

And as He heals, my attitude must be one of humility, gratitude, and trust. Even if I can't see the whole picture or understand what He is doing, I need to know that He has my best interest for the long run. He is healing, working, grieving over my pain.

So I pray: Father, Holy Spirit, Gentle Christ, help me to have even a drop of the grace in that little dog Monkey. To accept Your work and sovereignty with trust, humility, acceptance. To let You heal me. To put my head into Your armpit, to humbly bow before Your love. Thank You, Great Father. Amen.

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