A few days ago, a new pet came into our lives. I know very little about her. I can discern her breed, that she is a female who has had many litters, and that she was in desperate need of nutrition and attention. From the gray hairs around her muzzle, I’m guessing she’s between 6 and 8 years old. I wish she could speak to us and share her tale of woe, maybe explain how she came to her sad condition.
When I first spotted Mitzi (her new name), I was surprised to see a dog running along the sidewalk. I parked my van and watched her. She tentatively walked onto someone’s front porch, sniffed around, and came back down the steps. I scanned the other front porches in the area. No one was out, no one waiting for their dog to return, no one calling out for a wayward pet.
I stepped out of my van and approached her, speaking gently, hand outstretched with the palm up. As she wiggled over to me, I was aghast at her condition. Ribs and spinal column perfectly visible beneath her short-haired coat. She was dirty, she stunk, and she was shivering in the sub-freezing wind. Again I looked up and down the street, scanning for anyone who might know this dog. No one around.
I clicked the side door button on my keychain and the van door slid open. I walked toward the van and she followed. I asked, “Do you want to come with me?” She stopped at the door, looked at the van, looked at me, and made up her mind to jump in. In that moment, she made the decision to save her life.
I closed the door and checked with a few locals. No one knew the dog or from whence she had come. As I got back into the van, she immediately hopped onto my lap as if to assist me in the short drive home. My girls were excited to see her sweet face, but we all had a good cry as we examined her malnourished, mistreated body. As I phoned the vet, the girls wrapped her in a blanket and sat cuddling her in a room separate from our other pets. When I turned on a space heater, she kept inching closer and closer to it, and I wondered aloud how long it might have been since she had felt warm. She devoured the Dog Chow (two bowls) and couldn’t get enough water (three bowls).
Doc Lyon gave her a thorough exam. He said that Mitzi has a strong heart and clear lungs. For her size, she should weigh 18 to 20 lbs. The scale in his office read 13.3 lbs. He said that six weeks of TLC would put her back to a healthy weight and then she should be able to tolerate vaccination. My mom joined us at the vet’s office and asked Doc how long it would take for a dog to digress into in Mitzi’s condition. He said she probably hadn’t been fed for two to three weeks.
We brought Mitzi home, bathed her, cuddled her. Our dog (Dogmatix) eyed her suspiciously; one cat (Tiger Lily) looked at her as if to say, “Another dog? Whatever.” The other cat (Peaches) immediately went into hiding. However, I suspect she’ll come out when she gets hungry enough.
We had friends over. Mitzi jumped onto my lap and one friend observed, “She looks at you as if to say, ‘I don’t know who you people are, but thank you so much for saving me’.” Over the last 48 hours, with the exception of sleeping in a large kennel at night, Mitzi has been a constant companion. Where I sit, she sits. When I move from one room to another, she follows. And when she looks at me with her skinny face, she really does look grateful.
Her story can parallel that of all Christians. Some of us came from the worst of conditions, the bottom of the barrel. Some of us came from good homes, where we were well-cared-for. But really, what difference is there? Whether we herald from Fifth Avenue, grew up as a preacher’s kid, or climbed out of the worst ghetto in Calcutta, whatever good was inside of us simply wasn’t good enough. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”
What does that mean? It means that nothing we do will ever be good enough to save us from hell. No amount of money donated to charity, meals we serve to the hungry, mistreated animals we rescue, or church services we attend will ever outweigh our sins on the scales of justice.
But there is hope.
Although sickly from sin, malnourished, grimy, and smelling of garbage, God accepts us into His family. How is it that a perfect, holy God is willing to take us in? He loved us so much that he gave His only Son as a ransom.
He opens the door and asks, “Do you want to come with me?” No conditions, no payment, just the offer of salvation. The decision is up to you. God doesn’t take prisoners; He lovingly welcomes all who willingly choose to accept His gift. You are the only person who can make the decision to save your life. Step through the door. Let God clean you up, allow Jesus to love on you, and the Holy Spirit to nourish your soul.
Make the decision today. You’ll be eternally grateful you did.