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When love doesn't look like you expected

whenlovedoesntlook

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a bit of a gamble. One never knows what they will be taking home. I have heard that some dogs act sweet and gentle until they get adopted, and then they transform into crazy, couch chewing maniacs. Other dogs start off solitary and timid only to turn into Howler monkeys who keep the entire neighborhood awake at night. When I first saw our soon-to-be-adopted dog, I had no idea what the next fifteen years had in store. One thing I did know: it was love at first sight.

When the shelter volunteer introduced us to “Aquafina” the dog began her performance: darting, spinning, twisting, effortlessly leaping up onto a chair and back to the floor with a flourish. Her curved, bushy tail dusted the entryway as she showed off all of her border collie/Aussie mix moves. Due to fleas, her entire body was shaved except for her head and tail, giving her a weird, fox-like look. Only the future months would reveal her gorgeous black, gray, and white coat which produced enough chiengora to knit several blankets a year. Eventually she dropped to the floor and let me pet her. Somehow I knew that she was going to be my good friend. Conservative as always with decisions, I told my husband that I wanted to wait and not adopt her that day. That night I tossed and turned, sleepless. All that I could think about was that dog. I needed to go get her.

We renamed her Bindi, and she became my constant companion. We took walks and participated in obedience training. She loved car rides, treats from the bank teller, and chicken nuggets from McDonald's. One snowy Sunday she went to church with us because I had spent a half hour chasing her up and down the street and didn’t have time to take her back home. Bindi was also instrumental in helping me overcome nighttime anxieties when my husband traveled for work. This dog was truly a gift from God, an answer to prayer.

When I found out she had terminal cancer, I was devastated.

My companion of fifteen years was faced with certain death due to this awful disease. The vet said there was nothing we could do for her. The most loving thing to do was to allow the vet to euthanize her. This made sense to my mind, but not my heart. How could I do this? It was not easy to watch the vet inject her, or to watch the last breath leave her body. I had done a very hard thing, but it was the best for her.

In the book of Malachi, the people of God questioned His love towards them. In chapter one verse two we read, "'I have loved you,' says the Lord. But you say, 'How have you loved us?'"

They had grown stale in their faith walk and did not remember His promises nor all He had done for them. They did not recognize His hand in their circumstances. They assumed God didn’t love them because life did not look like they thought it would. Yet God had made a covenant with their ancestor Abraham, and continued through Isaac and Jacob. They were a people who were set aside for God’s purposes and blessings. The people of God forgot His promises and their roles. So many times in Scripture we are told to remember God. In Deuteronomy 6:12 we are taught, "Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."

If you feel unloved by God remember that, if you have made Him Lord of your life, He has delivered you from spiritual slavery and condemnation. Beloved, do you see God’s hand in your circumstances? Do the uncomfortable issues in life cause you to doubt God’s love? Where in Scripture does it say that you will know you are loved by God because everything will go your way? This is a lie of the Enemy! Sometimes love comes in ways we did not expect: a friend has to confront a lifelong buddy about a porn problem, or a wife has to confront her husband about his ungodly treatment of their children, or a church member has to confront his pastor about a drinking problem. No matter how uncomfortable or negative these acts feel, they are acts of love, and they are appropriate. God will do what is best for us, not what pleases us.

Pray with me.
Father, you are a good God who cares about your people. I thank you for the hard circumstances that train us to be more like you. Help us not to panic when You allow hard circumstances into our lives. Help us not to fall into unbelief when we do not feel loved. Help us to remember Your words from Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."

In Jesus’s name,
Amen