We’re continuing our study of the building blocks. Have you completed your Soul Care Plan for 2018? Soul Care Plan Link Today’s topic explores the intersection of “W” and “S”, Worship and Service.
My thoughts (Robin Herman):
I’m the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat. We’re a dog daycare and boarding facility that loves dogs. We pull dogs from Animal Care and Control and other places in need, get them happy and healthy and adopt them to loving families. I love my work — it’s my ministry and mission, but it can be overwhelming.
We’re usually at (or past) our limit for dogs we can keep and foster until we find homes for them. You wouldn’t believe — or you wouldn’t want to know — some of the situations we’ve seen. The puppy thrown in a dumpster; the dog who weighs half of what he should; the scars and the abuse and the fear and despair and the humans who seem to have no heart. I’m no hero for trying to make a dent in this mess. It’s how God has made my heart — it’s what I do.
On a Saturday a few years back, LifeJourney Church’s Animal Ministry met at the Humane Society to walk the dogs. I was going to meet an employee there to talk about becoming an “Advance Canine Companion” so I can spend time with the dogs in the back that aren’t up for adoption yet.
The Humane Society employee took me on a tour of the cavernous building. Isolation rooms, behavior rooms, wellness rooms, halls and cages of dogs. Puppies, three-legged dogs, old dogs, sick dogs, lonely dogs. Behavior challenges, health challenges and unknown challenges. Kennels of puppies, and small cages with just one dog in them, lonely and shut down — all alone.
Of all the areas at the Humane Society, I avoid the intake area like the plague. I just want to smack those people. Every cage was full of dogs already taken in, mostly puppies. I suppose it’s too much trouble to spay or neuter your dog when you can just bring in the litter of puppies when they aren’t fun anymore.
I remember the last time I was in the intake room. A crate sat in the middle of the room. Someone had not only brought their dog in, but everything they had with him. That’s nice I suppose, but what do they imagine they’re going to do with all that stuff? Biscuits, toys, leashes, treats, a little jacket, bowls, and some blankets.
I wonder what happened. If it’s like so many stories I hear, there’s “just not enough time.” He deserves a family that’ll take better care of him and has the time to spend. They probably got him as a puppy. Spent a lot of time with him at first, but other things became more important. What did they think would happen here? Did they think that their dog was going to hang out in his crate, chewing bones and chasing balls around until the perfect family comes and joyfully takes him home?
No, the cute little dog is now stressed and confused. He’s scared and hiding in the corner. The stress has given him terrible diarrhea, and although he begged to be let out, no one came to his door. The people just walk past him now. Between him hiding in the corner and shaking, and the mess on the floor, no one comes to take him home. His toys, bowls, and blankets end up stacked in a back room, the crate is stored on the top shelf and everything else gets thrown away. He sits alone, surrounded by cement walls and a metal cage door. Odds are the new family — the one with all the time on their hands — doesn’t ever come. All he’s left with are people like me who have about 10 minutes to walk him, the second Saturday of every month.
Back to the busy day, most of the adoptable dogs got walked, off to lunch and then to work.
I slept in Sunday morning until about 8:30. Church is at 9:30 so I hustled round and got ready to go. The announcements came and went, children’s sermon and then the praise song. And the world seemed to come to an abrupt stop.
The worship song was God of this City. The words….
You’re the Light in this darkness
You’re the Hope to the hopeless
You’re the Peace to the restless
There is no one like our God
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City…
And all the busy-ness of running around trying to save these dogs stopped, and all the strength went with it. I stood there, at the end of this busy week, with my soul raw and completely exposed. Their faces played over in my mind. The pain, the fear, and hopelessness was unmistakable, and all I am is small drop in a black hole of desperation.
But as much as the sadness was overwhelming me, the promise of that song was giving me great joy. I was able to remember that this, the tragedy that is in front of me, will end one day. And although it’s just a drop, it is part of a much bigger fight — and for that, I’ll start back at it tomorrow and try to remember that I’m on the winning side.
Thought for the day: What is your passion and calling? Where do you find relief from the weight of the work?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.