Adopting a Stray

So my soft side got the best of me again this weekend. I am a sucker for a stray! I went for my run on Friday morning, and on my warm-up I noticed a dog in the front yard of the neighbor’s house. It barked at me and came across the street toward me for a bit, which made me uneasy. So I watched it closely until I was well past it, then forgot about it on my jog.

On my way back home the dog was still there. The owners of that house had basically abandoned their home the weekend before. (welcome to the economy in 2009…we haven’t had a lot of foreclosures on our block thankfully) That’s not the end of the world, but the neighbors next door to the newly-abandoned house were outside with their two dogs, playing with the one that had barked at me earlier.

Well to make a long story short I found out that the owners had abandoned not only their home but their dog. They had sold another dog they had, but left this little mutt to fend for herself.

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Of course before doing anything I went home and talked to my wife. (I surprised her by bringing a dog home unannounced when we first moved to Phoenix…and learned my lesson!) We talked about it a little and ended up bringing her home for at least the weekend. After all, she would go hungry or get hurt in the street by herself.

Well the previous owner came by that afternoon and told us some particulars. She is only 8 months old…so she’s a puppy. (strike one!) She has not had her vaccinations and we have kids in the house. (strike two!) And she has not been fixed and is an escape artist. (STRIKE THREE!)

Wait, there’s more! Laura does not like dogs particularly, though because I like them she tolerates our 55 pound lab mix named Grace. We also have a cat and James just got a rat. Laura wasn’t at all excited about taking on more animals! We would have to feed her, and of course once she was part of the family we would have to take care of all of her needs financially. The first night she stayed in our back yard I had to get up several times because she was barking at who knows what. She scratched a lot, which probably meant she had fleas.

There was not much going for this little mongrel. She had no real redeeming qualities…

Except the kids absolutely loved her. I said she looked like a “Trixie,” and they instantly started calling her Trixie. (even after we found out her previous owners named her Emory, Trixie stuck) They played with her and loved on her. We talked as a family over dinner on Sunday about keeping her and all the headaches it would be, but the look in the kids’ eyes was enough for Laura to relent.

So the kids and I bathed her with flea and tick shampoo, and put some flea treatment on her. After that she came in the house… and promptly peed on the carpet in our bedroom. She is sweet but not too smart. She likes to jump on the couch which is a no-no in our home. But again, the kids love her (and I like her too).

This got me thinking about a passage in Ezekiel this week. I know, you don’t spend your days thinking about prophets and their connection to stray mutts; that’s why you read my blog, because I do! In Ezekiel 16:1-5 God shows His amazing grace to His unfaithful people not because of their worth but because of His grace. This is His description of how He found them:

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem, Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

There was nothing of value in them to bring God to love them or make a covenant with them. There was no intrinsic value in them. But God loved them anyway and provided for them in verses 6 and 7, giving them room to grow up. He then gave them everything they could possibly imagine in Ezekiel 16:8-14:

“Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord GOD. “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. “I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord GOD.”

There was no value or worth in Israel that caused God to choose them as His people. Yet because of who He is, He redeemed them from their worthlessness, provided them everything they needed to thrive, and gave them an exalted place at His right hand.

While this passage is first and foremost about God’s relationship with His unfaithful people, Israel, it also has application to me[1]. How many times I need to realize that when God found me I had nothing redeeming in me. There was only me and my sin, offensive to God and completely worthless. And yet God loved me anyway and sent His Son to die for me. He redeemed me and made me His child, then gave me everything I could possibly imagine to bring me up from that worthlessness He found me in. Now I am no longer that worthless wretch, but a child of God deemed royalty by the King of kings. (1 Peter 2:9) Yeah I still “pee on the carpet” occasionally[2], but He loves me as His and faithfully cleans up my mess.

Thanks, Trixie, for showing me again how much God loves me. Thanks for reminding me that it is not who I am who made Him redeem me; rather, my redemption is solely and completely because of His unfathomable grace. That alone is worth the price of keeping you around! (but stay off of my chair)

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[1] Application is different than interpretation. In biblical interpretation we seek to find the author’s intended meaning for his first readers; in this case, it is Ezekiel’s recording of God’s pronouncement to His people, Israel. However, the next step is finding how that original audience is like and unlike me as a modern reader, then finding the universal theological truth taught in the passage and applying it to my personal situation. This is the path to correct biblical interpretation taught by Scott Duvall and Danny Hays in their excellent book, Grasping God’s Word. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2005.

[2] Metaphorically speaking of course! Laura has me pretty well house-trained at this point in my married life.

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