“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11
My senior doggy Abigail whom I’ve had for 13 years since I traded another dog with a friend because we realized each dog would do better with the other person until my friend decided to return her dog so I ended up with both has reached the time in her life in which I don’t honestly know how much longer I’ll have her. Medical diagnosis aside, her appetite is totally off. Hungry sometimes, other times no interest in food. Dog food delicious one day, the next day all she wants is peanut butter. And, oh, the bagels! Is it because I’m in New York City? I don’t know. She just gets the generic kind from a generic kind of a store. But oh how she loves them! What does my bagel eating dog have to do with the Lord, and why share this with you in a devotional? Here’s why.
I, like many other people who love their dogs, tend to go to extreme lengths when my dogs are approaching the end of their lives. Right down to running back and forth to the fridge to try this food or that one, and to the store to buy this food or the other one, being ultra sensitive to my dogs’ desires to do anything I can to help them feel loved and cared for and to keep them well fed and attended to. Given how many dogs I’ve had due to dog rescue work for 20 years, I’ve learned how to be exceedingly sensitive to the dogs, and to what they need and don’t need, to what they want and don’t want, and have learned the ropes of one medication versus another, one diagnosis versus another, how to tell when it’s time to say goodbye, etc.
The Lord created us to love Him with all our hearts and to love others as ourselves, and I learned the long, hard way that animals do not come before the Lord nor do they come before people. And the sensitivity and love and care and compassion the Lord has given me needs to be designated for HIM FIRST, for PEOPLE SECOND, and then for MY SWEET DOGS. The Lord has used the dogs over the years to teach me to be more sensitive to Him and to people, and has taught me through them to keep my eyes and ears and heart wide open to notice every need PEOPLE have. With up to 19 dogs at a time in my care, many with special needs, I have had to learn to be extremely detailed in my care and to learn to be wise and discerning and led by God in how to address every issue that could possibly come up. Right down to when a senior dog whose life is slowly coming to an end falls in love with bagels with peanut butter on top.
Imagine if each and every one of us would truly open our hearts, ears, and eyes to the needs and desires and challenges and circumstances of the people in this world all around us and would take Christ’s love and provision and share it as His Spirit leads us using sensitivity, patience, kindness, compassion, and love, love, and more love. This is what we’re called to do, my friend! To love Him with all our hearts and to take His love and spread it all around.
The Lord led me to repentance and straightened me out so my priorities are now in order. God first. Then people. Next the dogs. And when it comes to loving people, and being sensitive to their needs and compassionate and merciful toward them, it’s only in His strength by His grace for His glory that I am learning day by day to do just that. To be the woman of God He created me to be. Loving Him. Loving others.
Our sinful nature keeps us focused on ourselves. God wants us focused on Him and others. Let us love, friend, in Christ’s name. For God’s amazing glory. Amen!