“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV).
She looked at the bars on her cage. She looked at the other dogs. Then she looked for a way out. When she found it, away she went as fast as her little legs would go.
Out of the building, across the field, into a lawn, and up to a door she flew. She didn’t wait long until the door opened.
“Well, what have we here?” said Terry. “Are you hungry little lady? If you are, you came to the right place. Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
She didn’t understand all Terry said, but she waited. She liked his voice and the way he ruffled the fur on her back when he talked.
Uh-oh, she thought when Terry opened the door. There stood a whole crew of people. Just as she started to run, those men started talking, laughing, and rubbing her like she was a long-lost friend. She never felt such love in all her short life. Hmmm, I could get used to this.
After they fed her, she roamed around the field next door. Before long, though, her stomach started to rumble. I wonder what will happen if I go back?
So she went back again … and again … and again.
Eventually they let her in their big house. They bathed her and arranged medical care. They gave her a bed, her own food dish, and let her roam.
She listened as the men talked about why they lived there. All of them had made bad choices. They took drugs they weren’t supposed to have. Some had gone to jail before they arrived. This place was supposed to help them make better choices in the future.
She liked one of their choices. They named her Hope. They discussed other names, like Rehab. Yuck, she thought, what kind of name is Rehab?
Hope started thinking, Since these guys take care of me, I’d better see what I can do to take care of them.
So Hope’s work began. When new men arrived, Hope made them feel welcome. She didn’t rush them but walked close to them or brushed against them.
When the men had a bad day, Hope stayed close, nudging them with her nose, smacking them with her paws, and licking them until they felt better.
Sometimes when the men talked among themselves, Hope listened. A few times they talked about her. They said Hope loved them and didn’t give up on them, even when they were in a bad mood. They said she found a better way of life and was trying to help them find a better way to live too.
Hope was so proud of her men. Nothing pleased her more than knowing she helped them the same way they helped her.
So, what can we humans learn from this little mongrel?
- First, find the right home. Don’t remain imprisoned by tradition, meaningless rules and rituals, or self-righteousness. Seek instead the open arms of the Savior.
- Practice unconditional love. In spite of her men’s questionable backgrounds, Hope loved them, wanted the best for them, and listened with her ears, eyes, and heart. When tempted to criticize the mistakes of others, remember God loves them no less than He loves us.
- Look beyond what is to what can be. Hope mixed affection and correction to guide her men to a better future. With God’s help, anyone can break loose from sin’s shackles. We can help point the way.
- Don’t give up. As the men went about their daily routines, Hope remained close. She walked with them and nudged them along the way. Some faltered, but she remained. We all have days we want to throw up our hands and throw in the towel. Jesus never chose that option. Neither should we.
- Take breaks. Occasionally Hope headed to her bed for a nice rest. Jesus needed to get away from it all from time to time. So do we.
- Allow others to learn from our experiences, both good and bad. The men saw a difference in Hope’s life and wanted the same for themselves. Our personal testimony may be our strongest tool.
Let’s learn life lessons from a dog named Hope.