It's been a while since I have had a chance to blog my thoughts and feelings about something rather than just the events of the week. This post is somewhat an elaboration on my last post where I had described our sick puppy.
We had only had Taser for a week when she became very ill. The second visit to the vet gave us little hope. According to the vet, our only recourse was to watch her to see if her condition worsened and then take her immediately to an animal hospital for emergency surgery. Even at that the surgery would not cure her - only relieve her suffering for a time. To say the least, things were not looking good.
That weekend was not a good time for her to be so ill either - I had to work 27 hours between 11pm on Friday night and 8am on Sunday morning. That was a lot of time away from my sick puppy and I felt so helpless to do anything for her. I tried calling off work but was told that was not an option. Even though we had only had Taser for a week, I was very attached to her and was very upset that she was so sick and it looked as if we would lose her. Funny how attached you can get to a dog in a matter of a week. Before I left for work we tried to get Taser to eat something but she was too lethargic to be interested in food - until I had the idea of getting her some of the leftover chicken we had in the fridge. She perked up at that and ate it pretty well considering her condition. Then I left for work. On the way there I had a good long talk with God. It was not a pretty talk either. I know, I know, who am I to argue with the almighty but that has never stopped me before. Actually, I agrue with him quite regularly. I always lose of course but at least I have my say.
I had given some thought as to why this puppy meant so much to me and came to realize that she symbolized something much more than just a puppy. For one thing, not much has gone my way in some time. 2005 was not a good year for me. It seemed that anything I got excited about was somehow taken from me. Frankly, I needed something for "me" for a change. And too, several years ago I had a German Shepherd named Bear that was my baby. I had gotten him before I married my husband and he was the center of our attention for several years. Then we went through a bad time in a church in Alabama and were given the left foot of fellowship (we were kicked out). That experience was horrible to put it mildly. Even the way we were asked to leave was underhanded. For instance, The leaders of that congregation went around to the elderly shut-in who could not read well and asked them to sign a "letter saying how much you love pastor Buriff". Not being able to read it, the old people signed it readily not knowing it was acutally a petition asking us to leave. Later we were told by some of them that just didn't understand why we were leavning becuase the church had just given us a letter of appreciation.
It is never easy for anyone to lose their only source of income. Even though being a pastor is not a "job" and the pay is rarely what attracts one to ministry (trust me on that one and if you don't try living on a pastor's salary), it is your livlihood and it is hard to lose it. In addition we lived in a parsonage so we had to move out quickly. With nowhere else to go we came back to Ohio and moved in with my parents until we could get back on our feet. Moving meant that we had to leave behind the only friends we really had. We were pretty broken after having lost so much ... we had lost our income, our home, our friends, and then we had to give our dog Bear away as well because we couldn't keep him where we were. That was about the final straw for me. I remember telling God, "OK, I given up everything here .... I'm down to family members now .... surely you don't expect me to give up any thing else".
I remembered a promise in Mark 10:29-30 "And Jesus replied, "Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything-home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property-for love of me and to tell others the Good News, who won't be given back, a hundred times over, homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land-with persecutions!" now I'm aware that there are many ways to intrepret this verse and let me assure you that I in no way adhere to the prosperity teachings so popular on Christian TV but I do have to say that I've seen this verse come to pass in my own life. When we moved to Ohio, within a week my husband had a job that paid very well. It was not a nice job, (telemarketing) but it did provide for our family. We also found our way into a church that is just so much better than the one we left in Alabama. And eventually we moved into our dream home - a far cry from the parsonage in Alabama where the sewer backed up into the dishwasher. And we do have good friends here too. The only thing missing was the dog. We did have other dogs and in fact we have a wonderful black lab named Jazz but I had always wanted another German Shepherd and Taser had in some ways that I had not even realized, come to represent that German Shepherd.
SO, at work that night (I work nights) I was quite angry with God and told him so. I was even so bold as to remind him that he had "promised" and that I meant to hold him to that promise. It is quite possible that I was sorely out of line in doing so, but thankfully we serve a graceous God. After giving him a piece of my mind I walked outside into the cool night and looked up at the sky and saw the first "moonbow" I've ever seen. I take it that was God's way of telling his spoiled brat of a child that it was all going to be OK. I came home the next moring to a new dog. Taser was feeling fine and has been eating like horse, growing bigger by the day and being a general menace. Last week at the vet she was given a clean bill of health and amazed them all with how much she has grown.
If I have learned anything at all from following God for the past 30 years, it is that he is a keeper of promises and can be trusted to be faithful even when we are not.