The dog looked at me with a wary eye. Was I friend or foe?
I laid down my small offering of lunchmeat turkey breast and leftover sandwich bread with mayonnaise on it. I placed it all in a bowl and slid it through a hole in the fence. He looked thinner than the last time I’d seen him. Pink skin showed through just above where a collar should be, the fur ripped out by frustrated flea-scratching.
“Here, boy,” I said.
He thrashed around in the bushes, up and down the hillside a couple of times. I couldn’t tell if it was out of excitement or fear. Finally, he stopped and looked at me. We gazed at each other. Several seconds passed. Then, hunger overcame any fear. He pushed his square nose into the bowl and pulled out the bread. Gulp! Each slice disappeared in one gulp. His brown-black fur shone in the sun. Next he gobbled the meat.
In between bites, he looked at me as if to say, What are you going to do about it?
I looked up at the pale blue sky and thought, There but for the grace of God go I. Not that I would be a dog, mind you, but starving. Homeless. Lost. Alone and scared.
This dog lives behind our garden fence. He’s rather bony and not a young pup anymore. He traverses the hill on grooved paths, has a little nest with a donated blanket and generally looks out for himself. Several of us whose homes abut the hillside feed him. He belongs to no one anymore and actively avoids acquiring a new owner. Ruby named him Max.
We’d like to own Max. We would rig a living space for him in the carport. We’d take care of his basic needs and show him affection. But Max, badly abused by his last nomadic master, will not cotton to new management.
Are we any different? God comes to us in big and small ways. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Yet we resist. Our last encounter with Jesus or His so-called people left us bloody and broken. We want nothing to do with church, thank you very much. And God can take a hike, too, for that matter. Why didn’t He stick up for us? Where did He go, on vacation to Bermuda? Or even for those of us who don’t eschew the fellowship, we don’t want to get too close to anyone. Past betrayals and hurts put us on guard, our invisible walls forever too high to scale and too thick to break through. So we attend church on a regular basis, get in our cars and go home. No muss, no fuss.
We hope to woo Max to us, in time. We’ll continue to bring him food he loves. We’ll talk to him,our voices soft and low, the metal fence still separating us. Maybe, just maybe, we can reach out a comforting helping hand and bring him in from the cold.
God’s grace remains for you, friend. People will fail us in this life. They make promises they can’t keep and lash out from their own pain. But…He is calling you today. Whether you believe or not, He is still there. He longs to care for you. He longs to be your friend and for you to walk with Him. He has all that you need. Will you let Him care for you?