The Lord frees prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
Psalm 146:7-8 HCSB
I’ve written before about how the Lord used the birth of my eldest nephew to lift my eyes off myself and on to another. It was a pivot in His direction, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was imprisoned and blind but God knew my heart. And how could He not know it! He created it, after all. He knew what would move me, and in His perfect timing, He opened my eyes that I might be free. Today I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude for how much the Lord used two dogs to pierce my selfish blinders and show me more of who He really is.
I didn’t grow up with pets, and though I enjoyed dogs, I didn’t really have a desire for one. I knew that I was selfish and I rather liked the fact that no one and nothing required my time and attention. That’s an ugly truth, but it is the truth. God knew that I desperately needed a daily reminder that I was not the only person in the world, so he sent me Beauty.
Beauty and Buddy and Me
Beauty is a little black mutt who’s too smart for her own good. She wants what she wants and is near-human in her capacity for cunning and manipulation. She also liked to roam, but after slicing through a tendon and being the worst dog patient in the history of the entire animal kingdom (not hyperbole – I stand by this statement), she was fitted with a wireless fence collar. But not before she met and brought home Buddy.
I originally named Buddy “Beast” because I’ve always loved the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast and I’m not terribly original. Beauty loved her “Beast,” a rather striking, German Shepherd looking mutt. But he was a real work – unsocialized, scared of his own shadow, and not very bright or teachable. “Beast” took time and patience galore. Beauty was a drama queen, but she was very responsive to me. Next to her, training “Beast” often felt like teaching table manners to a dung beetle. Then he was shot in the face.
I don’t know who shot him or why. All I know is that I heard a scuffle on my porch and some weird yips from Beauty, and when I opened the door, I saw “Beast” standing there with the left side of his face hanging off in a bloody flap. I did what any responsible pet owner would: I screamed and slammed the door in his face.
After crying hysterically for a few minutes, I got “Beast” loaded up and en route to the emergency animal hospital. They cleaned him up and stitched him shut and sent him home with me. I changed his name to Buddy not long after that, and that’s what he became.
Beauty and Buddy and God
It may seem like this is a post full of dog stories, and on the surface it is. But really these are snapshots from my story. This is how my heavenly Father brought to life His principles of authority and responsibility for a woman in solitude. He gave me not one, but two lives that depended on me. And challenging ones at that! He made sure that my laziness would be pushed and prodded regularly. God taught me how to move through a bloody crisis and showed me how much He loved me as He showed me how to care for His dogs.
I am so grateful now for the gift that I never really wanted. I needed it terribly, and God knew that. It looks like I’m losing Buddy after six years of adventure together, and though I grieve, I am mostly astonished at all that God did in my life with this dog. Beauty and Buddy are part of my salvation story, because they were part of how the Lord broke open my heart and gave me eyes to see a life beyond my own.
God knows what we need to be freed from our prisons. He knows when we need and how we need. And His grace and mercy can take very unexpected forms. God sent me Beauty and Buddy, and His furry creations were a means to meet Him more deeply than ever before.