A Four Footed Enemy

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
Matthew 5:44-45
It was about eight years ago now and I had pulled out of my driveway and was heading to the church when I noticed my neighbors dog running frantically up and down the street excited to be able to roam free. You could tell by watching her she had this sense she was where she was not supposed to be but she didn't seem to care as there were now before her hundreds of tress and bushes she had not known in some time and she was going to make the most of it.
My first thought was, "good, I hope the SPCA comes by and picks her up" and my second thought were thoughts I won't write down at all as the Lord already knows my heart and the ill will I had for this dog. She attacked our female Labrador about a year earlier, leaving our dog for dead in the privacy of our own backyard after our neighbors dog dug under our fence to go after our dog. As bad as attacking our dog was my biggest complaint was that almost every night she would bark all through the night just outside our bedroom window for no reason other than keeping me awake.

I knew the dog was evil as her favorite day to keep me up all night was Saturday night when I needed sleep most. I use to lie in bed and think of things I could do to stop the dog from barking. I thought that day as I watched our neighbors dog I was going to get to implement my dog elimination idea number 384, ridding myself and the entire neighborhood of this pest and yet as I sat there in my truck I remember thinking, Jesus said, "Love your enemies and do good to those who mistreat you." I have always thought that passage was limited to people and though my wife and I loved our neighbor who owned the dog neither of us cared for his dog much.

My enemy in this case was not a human being at all but rather it was a light brown Heinz 57 mutt of a dog by the name of Misty. As I sat there watching her go back and forth I knew I needed to help her get home even though that was the furthest thing from my heart. After praying for strength to do what I knew needed to be done though in all honesty I didn't want to do it, I got out of my truck and began to call her by name. She wasn't through checking out the neighborhood so she wasn't going to come easily and its in moments like those that the devil speaks the loudest and the clearest and even uses the Word of God. I could hear the devil saying, "Hey, at least you tried" Or better still, "Just let her go, she's about to reap what she has sown" (if you know what I mean when a dog roams busy streets). The list of reasons not to help or not to get involved in getting the dog home were far more clear in my mind than any reason to get involved or to help.
After some time Misty turned and looked at me much in the same way I remember Lassie looking at Timmy in the movie, "Lassie" and how when Lassie saw Timmy she ran to him. Misty looked at me and bolted right up to me and as I unlocked the gate to her backyard she sat next to me patiently waiting to get back in the place of her own security. I remember as I closed the gate and locked it behind her, I didn't get this sense of joy that I had done something good. It was actually the opposite. I thought I had just put my enemy back in her "camp" so to speak where she would get rested and refueled only to wreak havoc on my life later that night.

To think I was assisting my enemy so to speak making it possible for her to sin against me and my dog again. As I thought about that I now could hear the Lord speaking to me saying, "Now you get it, now you understand." What I had done for this dog Jesus has done for me and for you too, loved one. The bible says in Romans 5:6-10, "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
God knows I am a sinner and I can't even count the times in my life they are so many that Jesus has come and rescued me, found me and walked me safely home. As I sat there in my truck humbled by the knowledge of God's love for me I was reminded afresh that the way to overcome evil is by doing good, especially to those who mistreat you. I just never knew that could be a dog. As I drove to work a million thoughts came to mind about the goodness, the grace and the mercy of God. God didn't change Misty, my next door neighbors dog but He changed me. No longer was I mad at her for keeping me awake at night. Now I was now thanking God for the opportunity to extend His grace, even to a dog! Good practice for working with people too but better still a reminder of the love and grace God shows me and you.
Is there anyone in your life today that you are struggling to love? Someone who has hurt or injured you? You need, you must forgive! If so, just remember the love of God that is being shown to you. Look for ways today to overcome the hurt and the pain you might be experiencing by doing good for those who have hurt or mistreated you knowing when you do you are doing exactly what your heavenly Father is and has done for you. Just for the record, I stopped at the grocery store that afternoon and purchased a cowhide bone for my neighbors dog, and I didnt even pray that she would choke on it! It was then I felt as if I had done good!
"Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:20-21

Michael Osthimer





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