God doesn’t turn his back on us

She was mangy and scared to death when we first laid eyes on her. This black pit bull mix that had found its way into our yard was malnourished, neglected, and had obviously been abused. She was petrified of me and my family and yet was desperate for food and water. There was a sadness and desperation in her eyes. Her ribs revealed that she had not had a meal in a long time. We began to feed her and she gobbled down the dog food like she had never eaten before. She was a pitiful sight. My daughter Mackenzie is a dog whisperer of sorts. All dogs seem to gravitate towards her because of her kind spirit and sweet demeanor. This dog, over time, slowly began to approach her to take a piece of cheese or slice of deli meat. Finally, after what seemed like weeks, Mackenzie could pat her head. But she was extremely fearful of the rest of us and would tear off running away whenever she saw someone who wasn’t Mackenzie. Slowly, the dog warmed up to my wife and then, ever so slowly, to the rest of us. We left her food and water and tried to show her we meant no harm and that we wanted to help her. The mange had to be dealt with, so we borrowed some medicine to put on her. Reluctantly, she allowed us to treat her. Before long, her coat healed up and became beautiful and shiny. As the dog felt better, she became even more friendly to us. She would play with the kids in the yard and sit with my wife and I on the porch. The whole family began to love on her and she began to turn into a new dog. After many months, she embraced us as her family. Then, all of a sudden, she wanted to come in the house. If you would so much as crack open the door, she would barge her way in and then make herself at home. Over time, she laid in the floor, sat on the couch, and eventually ended up back in Mackenzie’s bed. One night she slept with Mackenzie and that was it. She didn’t want to be out of our sight. She truly became a part of our family and acquired a new name: Sweetie. She licked in in the face and nipped us on the nose. She jumped around with boundless joy when we she would see us. Even now, when she sees us, her tail wags so hard it slaps her in the face! We took her to the veterinarian to get her shots and the vet noticed she had a tattoo on her belly. Apparently, she was a shelter dog at some point and the blue tattoo informed him that the shelter had spayed her. He informed us that she might have a chip in her as well. Our hearts sank. Could she be someone else’s dog? Sure enough, she had a chip but it was registered to someone many hours away from Walker County. My daughter’s face turned white with fear. Would we have to give her back? The vet assured us since we had taken her in almost a year before and since the contact information on the chip led to a disconnected number, Sweetie was ours if we wanted her. We sure did! As Christians, we were like Sweetie in a way before we came to Jesus for salvation. We were mangy in sin and scared to death. The devil and the world had mistreated us, abused us, and we were utterly malnourished in our soul. We had no peace and no hope of ever getting healed or helped out of our condition.

The Lord, in his grace, came to us, however, and tried to show us He loved us. God sent people to tell us about His love and a Book that detailed just how much Jesus loved us and how He had revealed that love through sacrifice. But we were so messed up in our condition that we refused His kindness and didn’t care about His love for us. The Lord wouldn’t stop though. He was patient and kind and wasn’t turned off because we were diseased and disturbed. God didn’t turn his back on us even though we constantly ran from Him. He just loved us and was patient with us. Slowly we began to see that God truly cared for us despite our flaws and imperfections. We realized that God really did love us. And once we embraced how much we were loved, God began to heal us. The blood of Jesus, shed from the cross at Calvary, took away our mangy sin. Jesus let us lay in his lap, just enjoying His sweet presence and the peace from knowing He would care for us from that day forward. Everything we needed, He would supply and He would let us live in His home like it was our own. What a fantastic day when we were forgiven of our sins and began to follow Jesus! And then, like Sweetie, we wanted to be with the one who had healed us. Desperately so. We wanted nothing more. But there was a problem. We have a chip in us, as it were, because someone else has claimed us. Our enemy, the devil, enjoys oppressing us and mistreating us and doesn’t want to let us go. As sinners, we embraced the enemy and his ways even though they are awful and damning. But Jesus’ abounding love, precious blood, and glorious resurrection from the dead did away with our chip and we are in a new reality now where grace, joy, fulfilment, nourishment, and forgiveness are never ending! I am Jesus’ and He is mine! Hallelujah! That devil has no hold on me anymore. I am healed and made whole and I am loved and embraced by my Savior. I have a home in glory that no one can ever take away. I can rest in the peace of my God and trust Him because He loved me when I was unlovable! Praise the Lord! Recently, our family went on a trip and had to take Sweetie to the vet and board her for a few days. That was a hard moment. When a lady came out and put a leash on her to lead her away, I will never forget her sad, shocked, and frightened eyes, big as saucers. Those eyes betrayed her thoughts. “Am I being sent away?” Will they ever come back?” Why didn’t they want me?” “Please don’t leave me!” But let me tell you, when we came back to retrieve Sweetie, I almost cried. As Sweetie was led into that room with us, I saw those sad, dejected eyes again. But when Sweetie saw us, her eyes came to life and danced like flames. Her tail smacked her face repeatedly. She wiggled like a worm with pure joy. As we all petted her and hugged her, I couldn’t help but think about a wonderful day approaching in the future — a day where I will see my Savior face to face who healed me and loved me. I don’t know if my tail will slap my face or if I will wiggle like a worm, but I can imagine my eyes having the same fire as Sweetie had that day, knowing that I was safe in my Master’s embrace. Oh, what a glorious salvation we have! Amen? Scott McCullar is pastor at First Baptist Church Carbon Hill. He can be reached by email at rscottmcc@att.net or by calling (205) 924-4145. Information on the church can be found at www.fbccarbonhill.com