Here’s how life works for me: In the very moment when I am offering God’s grace to someone or something in need, that is the very moment I find I am the one who receives the greater gift.
I learned this first from the adoption of my daughters. It didn’t take me long at all to know the truth- I was the one who received the greater gift. The food, clothes, education and shelter that I have provided for them pales in comparison to the honor of simply being their mom.
I have learned this lesson in countless other ways as well: working with the homeless, serving special needs children, simple daily acts of kindness. Each time I have given a gift; With each gift given I find I am the one who walks away feeling blessed.
Our newest family member, Allister, has been teaching me these lessons each day. Allister is a 70 lb Great Dane mix. He is a rescue dog. A gorgeous monster mutt.
As I have written on this blog before, Allister has some challenges. He has overcome a lot of his fears since he joined our family but two terrors still stalk the poor boy: He is afraid of men and He is afraid he will lose us, his family.
Last week when I dropped him off for some play time at doggie day care he was pretty nervous about me leaving. He really was trying to be brave as he was hesitantly making his way to the play yard. But then a man walked through the door and it pushed him over the edge. He lost all control and peed in the woman’s shoe who was holding his leash.
A couple of days ago, I was gone a little longer than usual and when I came home he had tried to chew his way out of his crate. He didn’t get very far but it was pretty hard on his gums. There was blood all over the floor.
This morning, I had to be gone for about 30 minutes and since I remembered the chewing the crate incident, I decided to risk leaving him out for the very first time. I was terrified I would come home and find the sofa ripped to shreds. I walked through the door and Allister attempted to jump into my arms to give me kisses. I regained my balance, looked around and at first everything seemed normal. I was so proud!
Then I realized he had been a little bit busy… but only with items that belong to me.
He had pulled my gym bag into the living room to rest near the sofa where he likes to nap. Then he went to my backpack and retrieved my Bible. He took it into the living room too, opened it and tore out two pages from Ezekiel- the passage from The Valley of Dry Bones!
As I was taping the pages back into my Bible, I took time to read this passage once again. That is when I realized that God can even use a rescue dog with separation anxiety to give good gifts to His kids. There in the tattered pages of Ezekiel I found God speaking hope to Israel when she had given up completely.
Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live…” Ezekiel 37:11-14a
You see, today was one of those days when I needed to be reminded that even when all hope seems lost, The Giver of Life walks among the driest bones and breathes life into them once again. There is no end for the child of God. There is only the waiting for breath.
Then, forever then, we rise…