Monday, February 8, 2010

A Canine Heart Lesson

Our wonderful black Lab Susie left us two weeks ago. She isn't here, and we miss her terribly. She taught us lots of life lessons. Those lessons live on in our hearts!

Some time ago, I made some notes for this blog related to lessons we learned from Susie.

Susie didn't bark. We don't know if she could or if sometime before she came to us she lost that ability. We know she barked before she came to us. Perhaps she was so happy that she didn't feel the need to bark. Susie communicated with her eyes, her tongue and her "stance." When she wanted a treat she would "lick her lips" - it was a clear message. When we took her out to walk, she would "bound" down our driveway and keep looking over her shoulder to be sure one or both of us were following. She loved for me to run with her.

The night she died, she just kept looking straight into my eyes. I knew she was telling me something; I just didn't know what the awful truth was she was communicating. She was dying very soon. I think she knew that. I think she wanted to say, "Thank you for a wonderful life." I think she wanted to say, "I'm going away." All of a sudden her head fell and she collapsed. She was gone!

After she got so sick, she didn't bound down the drive any more. She would very painfully get up and get down very slowly.

One day not too long ago, I was walking her down our steep driveway. All of a sudden her ears stood straight up. I glanced down the drive to see a bunch of deer running across our drive much further down the drive. She didn't bark. But she knew and remembered younger days when she might have gone in chase of those deer.

Susie taught me a "heart lesson": There are people in my world who also have no voice. They may be almost "invisible" living in the shadows. Many of these are people affected by some disability - emotional, physical, mental and certainly spiritual. Susie taught me that I can "hear" and "see" those with "no voice" when God opens my heart! Susie taught me to watch for communication even when there is no voice.

That's what we are doing in ministry to individuals and families affected by brokenness. God is opening our hearts to hear and see - even the unspoken need. Who would think we could learn such a powerful lesson from a dearly loved old black lab?

William Cowper was disabled by severe depression and other emotional brokenness. He spoke in and through his pain in his wonderful hymns. In 1774 he penned these lines:

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill
He measures up His bright designs and works His sov'reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

... Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.

I'm looking for God's wonders today! I want to hear His voice! I have learned that God's voice sometimes thunders and sometimes it's just a still, small voice. Either way my heart needs to hear and respond!

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