“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 7:4-11
This lesson isn’t really from a paralyzed dog. It’s from the Lord. But it’s through a paralyzed dog called Mr. Simeon who was rescued by a young woman after being hit by a hit and run driver, turned over to me a year later sadly in poor condition, and years later so critically ill I spent an emotional weekend saying goodbye with the expectation I would have to euthanize him that Monday. I went all out in those supposed “final days” trying to make him comfortable including hand feeding him to try to get him to eat what little he would.
He must have loved the extra love, care, attention, and compassion, because when he miraculously became not only well but less than a year later became healthier than he’d ever been in my care, he mostly refused to eat even a morsel of his breakfast unless I knelt down beside him and hand fed him.
Though I was at times annoyed given my almost always super full plate of responsibilities, I chose to keep feeding him this way because he wanted and enjoyed the love.
Is there a lesson for us in this? I believe there is. I believe it’s about going the extra mile, the extra lengths, in loving. Not in loving dogs, but in loving people. In Christ’s love. By the Spirit of God. With the love of God. For the glory of God. We need the love of Jesus Christ in this world like never before, and though the Lord loves people directly by His Spirit, He also often uses His followers to express His love to His Creation. But we are so busy, so preoccupied, and sometimes so often self-consumed, how often do we notice people only when they’re in dire straits, in dire need of love, care, attention, and compassion, if we notice them at all and show them Christ’s love? And for those not in dire straits, who still need to see and feel and receive and experience Christ’s love, how often do we overlook their need to see and receive His love altogether?
Paralyzed dog Mr. Simeon doesn’t need to see Christ’s love like we people do, but my decision to keep hand feeding him was a reminder that we need to hand feed Christ’s love to humanity instead of being so busy, so preoccupied, and so self-consumed that we fail to love as we are called to do.
May we ever be open and willing to see the opportunities all around us, whether right where we live in our homes, prison cells, homeless shelters, and on the streets where some of us live, whether at our workplaces, in the grocery store, in the fields with fellow farm workers, at the airport when we’re traveling, in the public rest room when we see a janitor, in the church building, outside the church building, in the hospital when we’re visiting our loved ones but there are numerous others in need of love also, wherever we are, as the Spirit of God leads us, may we humbly “kneel by their sides” and express to them Christ’s most magnificent love. Demonstrating and expressing Christ’s love to others is not about our comfort, our convenience, and what we want and yearn for, but it’s about Christ and serving Him in the act of pouring out the love God by His Spirit pours into us onto the world all around.