One of my favorite activities is to visit our local animal shelter. A bittersweet tug on my heart, as I would love to scoop up and take a bunch of the animals home with me, yet I know that reality tells me I can not. So, my time spent is mostly conversing with and petting the animals that I can.
There is one large dog there named, Otis, who is NOT up for adoption. I believe the Lord used this dog to teach me a valuable lesson. When I first started coming to the shelter to visit with the animals, Otis would always growl, bark and sometimes lunge at the cage. It didn’t matter how much I would try to talk to him, he was still very stand-offish. Soon, I gave up trying and kept my distance as to not cause him any additional stress.
Months had gone by, and even when in the same room with Otis, I would just ignore him and not go by his cage. Although, he wasn’t barking or growling at me anymore, I still maintained my distance. I just didn’t trust him.
One day a small 4 month old black lab puppy was placed next to Otis. I went up and started talking to this puppy, gently and playfully. Little did I know that the whole time I was talking to the puppy, old Otis thought I was talking to him. Starved for attention and human touch, Otis placed the side of his body up against the cage for me to pet him.
Was I nervous? You bet I was!! This was the same dog I thought would bite my hand off. I looked in his eyes and all I saw was one of God’s creatures wishing only to be loved. Slowly, I started to pet Otis and call him gently by his name. The joy in his eyes was inexpressible.
How many times, I thought, had I treated a person in the same manner as I had treated Otis? Maybe because of their outside exterior, their gruffness, rudeness or maybe even irritability, had I distanced myself or even ignored
them. Had I failed to really, really look and see their true inner being? Like Otis, all of us longed to be loved and accepted.
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus accepts us and wants us just as we are?! He doesn’t say, "Come, when you get your life in order.", or "Come, when you stop with that bad habit.", or "Come, when all your relationships are mended." NO, when He says, "Come as you are." that’s exactly what He means.
Remember a kind soft word, gentle hug or smile may be all that is needed to soften the hearts of the Otis’s in this world. And, YES, Otis is still at the shelter and still one of my most favorite dogs to spend time with! 🙂
"He predestined us to adoption as children through Jesus Christ to Himself,according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.(Ephesians 1:5-6)
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" (John 1:12)