Several years ago youngest son and dog lover Brett called from Baylor University. He had spotted five abandoned puppies along the side of the road. He tried to round them up but could only catch one. Brett called to let me know that he intended to bathe, feed, care for the dog and then take him to the Humane Society on Monday for adoption. I knew I was in trouble when Brett decided to let me know what his rescued puppy looked like.
I called the lovely Mrs.Burchett. "He is working me," I told her. "He is falling in love with this dog." On Sunday I was driving through Waco and I stopped to see Brett and his alleged short term friend. The way this puppy followed Brett around and looked at him was astounding. He appeared to sense that Brett was, for him, the canine version of Amazing Grace. That dog seemed to understand that he once was lost and now was found. Maybe if we remembered our dramatic rescue along the side of the road to destruction we might gaze at our Rescuer more consistently with such a look of adoration.
I also started falling in love with this improbable mutt and concluded that our family dog population had just increased. Brett was scheduled to take "Trigger" to the vet for shots and a checkup on Monday. On that day another phone call came. Trigger had become violently ill overnight. The scourge of too many abandoned puppies seemed to have attacked this sweet little ragamuffin mutt. Trigger had contracted Parvovirus. Brett's words were heartbreaking in their honesty and love.
"Dad, I don't think he is going to make it. But at least he knew he was loved for a few days."
Okay. I cried at Old Yeller. I am a soft touch. But that remark from my youngest touched my heart and made me think that this is a microcosm of ministry. Sometimes it is heartbreaking. The results don't always match our desires. But if we can love the down and out like Jesus at least they know they have been loved and they will know the source of that love.
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
"Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' (Matt 25, NLT)
The results are not guaranteed when you minister to the least of these. But when we do minister to the least of these we show them the very face of Jesus.
This one had a happy ending. Trigger was in the hospital for 12 days of intravenous feeding and medication. I earned hundreds of airline miles on my credit card thanks to Trigger. He and Brett have been best buddies going on nine years.
Trigger is doing great.
And he still knows that he is loved.