The Benefit of Trust
I opened the pen so the dogs could stretch their legs in the yard. They ran around, relieved themselves, and ate worms–they are dogs, after all. When it was time to go back inside, I was presented with a problem. My parents clean the dogs’ paws whenever they come back in the house. Mario was happy to let me wipe his paws off then galloped into the house. Sidney … not so much. When I tried to lift her to clean her feet, she jumped. When I approached her again, she yelped. Oh, boy. I pretended to go in the house, shutting the glass door behind me. After a few barks of protest, I opened the door just enough to let her onto the rug, but she could not pass me without yielding to the wet paper towel. I tempted her with treats until she finally consented to the dreaded task.
Why all the fuss? This sweet dog was abused by her former owner. She no longer barked at me when I visited because she trusted her owners, who in turn trusted me. For several years, I fed Sidney dog treats as well as bits of food from my plate in order to help her warm up to me. We have made significant progress. She even permitted my lifting her a bit to fix her leash on walks … but always in the vicinity of her beloved owners. This day was different. No trusted owners in the house. No one to come to her rescue when she didn’t want to be handled by me. However, it all came down to this: she needed me to help her get where she wanted to go.
We may have friends and family who have suffered abuse from those who call themselves Christ-followers. They may have been hurt unintentionally, but the scars remain. These injured loved ones are hesitant to trust God or the church. Just as Sidney trusts her owners to treat her with love and respect, so we have friends and family in our lives who trust us to treat them with love and respect. They trust us to tell the truth. They trust us to be kind. They might not yet trust the God we love and serve, but because they trust us, we are presented with the opportunity to help them get where they want to go. As we navigate this Christmas season, God may provide an occasion to introduce our friends and family members to the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). They may not have their own relationship with the Lord, but they may trust us enough to receive God’s invitation to forgiveness and grace through us. Let’s not waste the privilege God has given us to help our friends and family get where they ultimately want to go.