Rescued to New Life

Last year I wrote about the death of my little dog, Dottie Jo, who had lived with our family for over a decade. My husband and I have been hesitant to get another dog for a lot of reasons but last weekend, after visiting shelters for several weeks, we finally brought home a new little companion from the SPCA. She had been one of many survivors from a hoarding situation in a nearby state, and made her way to our local shelter after being rescued from some pretty terrible conditions.

I have never been one of those people who just loves all animals, so my attachment to dogs over the course of my life has been pretty loose. This little girl, though, has stolen my heart. She decided that I was her person almost immediately when we got her home, and with few exceptions, she has not left my side. Already the Lord is showing me something about Himself and my relationship with Him through this little dog, and today I’d like to share with you some things about Ruby that have me looking at my own heart.

She is so grateful.

Ruby has never had her own food dish or bed. She’s never had a meal or a drink of water without fighting for it. She’s been hungry many times in her life and has lived in filthy conditions, from which there was no escape. When we feed her she gets very excited. She looks at me, hesitating to walk up to the food dish, but after a few seconds she will tiptoe over and devour the entire contents in about three mouthfuls.  Without anthropomorphizing too much, I think it’s safe to say she’s pretty incredulous about her new life.

As I think of the contrast between Ruby’s old life and the new, I can’t help thinking about mine. I too came from a place of hunger and thirst. The conditions I lived my life in were filthy—Stained with sin and hopelessly dark. When Jesus reached down into that place where I was living, He rescued me and placed me immediately into His Kingdom of Light. Now instantly cleansed and freed from the bondage of sin, I have new life in Him! Ruby’s gratitude and amazement about her new life are convicting to me, because I have to admit that I am not as grateful as I should be. She reminds me that I should never take my new life for granted. I need to stay amazed at God’s grace toward me, and always be grateful.

She never lets me out of her sight.

From the moment I first held her, Ruby seems to have determined that she would never lose sight of me. If I’m sitting, she’s on my lap—or wants to be. If I stand, she is behind me. I guess she figures this is the best vantage point for seeing where I’m going. If I’m walking, I can hear her little paws tapping along right behind me. If I disappear from view, she will seek me out. Even if my husband tries to distract her with treats so I can get away, she does not take her eyes off me.

I wonder what my life would be like if I never took my eyes off Christ; if I didn’t get distracted by things of this world. If I didn’t allow problems, and even good things, to distract me from pursuing God, how much further along would I be spiritually?  I can only imagine. Each time I hear Ruby’s little paws pattering after me down the hall, I have a sweet reminder to follow hard after God.

She doesn’t know that this is permanent.

Ruby and I are still building trust in our relationship. Having never been cared for by a human, this is all new to her. She doesn’t trust that when I leave, I’ll be back. She doesn’t trust that when her food dish is empty, it will be filled again. She doesn’t trust that this is a safe place. Sometimes, I think she has some concern that we might harm her.  The hope is that she will learn to trust me as I build a history of being trustworthy. As I fill her dishes each day; as I come home each night; as I scoop her up and hold her when she’s afraid, she will learn to trust me. Probably part of the reason she follows me so closely is fear that I won’t come back.

My “Owner” has a long history of faithfulness to me and to believers down through the ages, the accounts of which I have at my fingertips any time I want to be reminded. I have no reason not to trust Him. In fact, there are mountains of evidence to the contrary. Yet when things get hard or scary, I sometimes don’t trust Him to do what’s best for me. I leave off following Him, and go looking for comfort elsewhere. Why do I do this? It is certainly not because He has not proven Himself faithful! I know, both from my own experience and from the Scriptures, that He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that my adoption is eternal yet still, I doubt. I know He’s coming back but sometimes it seems too long.

This is where Ruby and I part ways, and where the analogy falls apart. Ruby does not have a sinful human heart, but I do. My heart deceives me into thinking there is a better way to deal with my problems and sorrows. When I’m stressed out, it tells me that escapism in entertainment will make me feel better. When I’m sad or disappointed, it tells me that dark chocolate will cheer me up. When I’m angry, it tells me that venting to a friend will relieve the pressure. Instead of seeking God, I seek other sources of relief. Ruby would never do this because she does not have a heart that is affected by sin. She just sees her owner, knows I’m the source of her comfort, and follows.

I really want my devotion to God to be like Ruby’s to me. I want to follow closely after God, always seeking His face in every situation. I want to run to Him for comfort, trusting that He is my place of safety. I want to have a calm and peaceful heart, even in trial, because I trust in the sovereignty, goodness, and love of God no matter what. My deceitful heart would deny me these things so I must remember that I have a new life now. Those filthy conditions I lived in before will never be my home again. My Savior has rescued me from darkness and brought me into His marvelous light. Ruby’s new life is permanent, but mine is eternal!

How thankful we both are for this new life! Neither of us could have gotten here on our own. Neither of us could have chosen to come had our rescuer not first chosen us. And, best of all, neither of us will ever have to live in that old life again. I’m looking forward to life with Ruby, however many years the Lord sees fit to give us. My hope is that she will trust me more and more, always reminding me of the great contrast between the old life and the new.

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