I’d like to introduce you to Izzie.
Yes, that fuzzy little black canine amongst all the leaves is Izzie. And so is this cute little blur. This is back in the day when your typical point and shoot camera had a hard time keeping up with something as rambunctious as a black lab puppy.
But before you start thinking this is just another cute puppy story, let me stop you right there.
You see, Izzie was born in a special kennel outside New York City for a very special purpose. When I was a senior in high school he came to live with me. And then he left for something even greater.
I had always wanted a dog, but my parents did not. They let me run wild with smaller critters – five breeds of rabbits and two breeds of ducks filled my expanding hobby yard – but they firmly declined my plea for a dog.
Until I hatched the perfect plan.
I would raise a puppy for a year. When I left for college, the puppy would also leave for school. To become a guide dog for the blind. It was a service project with an outcome they couldn’t refuse.
Over my year of puppy raising, I heard variations of the same question: How could I possibly give up a puppy after loving it for a year?
My answers were standard: He’s not actually my dog; I’m just caring for him right now. There is someone out there who needs him even more than me. Of course, it will break my heart, but it’s for such a good cause.
Today, I know the answer is a little deeper. Today, I feel exactly how those people with the wide-eyed wonder looked. I couldn’t be a puppy raiser now. But then, I was given the grace to do the right thing at the right time.
This makes me even gladder that I did it when I could.
Proverbs 15:23 tells us that a word in due season is a good thing. I think the same is true for actions. There is a season for every activity under heaven. A time to raise puppies, and a time to do something else (See Ecclesiastes 3).
During this valentine’s season when so much attention is placed on the emotion of love, let me suggest we place some attention on the practicality of love. There is something we can do right now, in this season, that we may not be in a position to do again.
Let’s do it.
Whatever our hand finds to do right now, we should do it with all our might. Chances are, it won’t seem like a big thing. It will simply be something we can do, wherever we are, with what we have. It may even be something we always wanted that ends up being a unique gift to someone else…and to us.
That was certainly the case with Izzie. A year after we both left for separate schooling, Izzie went on to serve as a faithful guide alongside his partner in Tennessee. His graduation picture remains one of my most prized possessions.
It was an opportunity I could have missed. That realization encourages me to look around me now. In a different time and a different place, there is something here for me to do.
Take an action in due season.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with both two- and four-footed friends. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org