Our family dog, Diamond Star is super smart. I know, I know, everyone who owns a dog says this about theirs, but its true for us! My brother Marcus disagrees and believes his dog, my nephew, Goldie falls under this category. He might, but it would be behind Diamond. LOL! That being said, we learn a lot from Diamond. There is one particular lesson that she demonstrated that is continuing to resonate in my spirit, so I elected to reflect and write about it. Here goes.
Whenever a member of the family is sick, Diamond sticks close by. Her sense of intuition is so strong that she doesn’t play with her toys, or follow her usual schedule of sitting in the window and barking at people who pass (especially the FedEx or UPS deliverer). She doesn’t beg to go outside, or beg for her food, or her nonstop, can’t get enough belly rubs. She lays beside whomever is sick, whether it be in the bed, or on the couch, she just remains close. I first noticed it with our daughter when Diamond was very young. Then I noticed it with myself and even my mom while visiting and taken ill. Diamond’s sense of compassion was always appreciated and welcomed, especially when one is not feeling their best.
Diamond is quite spry for nearly a 10 year old dog. However, while our daughter was home for spring break, Diamond began biting a growth on her leg. Although it was there for three years and never bothered her, over the week, it grew and became extremely irritated. We took her to the vet and it was recommended that the growth be removed. We scheduled the surgery. It went well and she was able to come home in the afternoon. Diamond has experienced little sickness while in our care, but this time, she exhibited all the characteristics of being ill. She moaned, she cried, she wanted someone close by. I realized that just as she stayed with us during our bouts of sickness, there was a need to do the same for her. I quickly cancelled plans and elected instead to physically remain in her presence, providing assurance to her as she always did for us. I realized in that moment, Diamond had need of us. Weeks later, that experience is still speaking to me and affirming that the Lord has need of us as well.
As Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem he asked his disciples to go to a nearby place and secure a donkey. He instructed that if anyone asked about their intent as they brought the donkey to him, tell them “The Lord has need of it” (Luke 19:34). This statement was spoken by Jesus thousands of years ago, but the essence of it remains alive today. After the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the 40 days after were filled with Jesus revealing himself to those who doubted that the scriptures of the Old Testament were being fulfilled. But he also spent time preparing the disciples and us for the Great Commission, to tell the world about Jesus and empower others to live a life for him.
Its rather paradoxical that the 40 days leading up to the the celebration of the Resurrection are designed to be centered on self. We elect to “give up” something in an effort to develop or strengthen our self-control and denial for what we often crave. Yet there is strength inherent in the denial of the flesh, and after we get this flesh under control, we shouldn’t return to business as usual. Instead, we have opportunity to share what we’ve learned and the strength we’ve gained with others just like the 40 days after the Resurrection. The disciples couldn’t return to business as usual. The scriptures had been fulfilled and Jesus was to return to his heavenly home. Those who were left were to begin the building of the church. In other words, the Lord had need of them.
God is not limited to the God that can help us from eating sweets, drinking pop (I’m a midwestern at heart), encouraging us to go to the gym, to read our Bibles, to stop cussin’ or fill in the blank for whatever your hiccup. His sovereignty goes beyond the 40 days that we “sacrifice” something leading up to observance of the Resurrection. Our true and authentic sacrifice comes after, when the strength that we surmised during our fasting is tested and needed to continue the work of Christ. He has need of us! He has need of us to share the good news. He has need of us to comfort those who are bruised from the occurrences of life. He has need of us to give voice to those who have been silenced. He has need of us to physically go to some places and spaces and not just send our prayers. He has need of us to be obedient. He has need of us to be faithful. He has need of us!
God could have commanded through a simple word or gesture for us to serve him. Yet, he gave us free will. However, some two thousand years later, he still has need of us. Just as he sticks with us, never leaving or forsaking us through our trials of life, he has need of us to stick with him, and believe that he who began a good work in us shall perform it until the day that Christ returns (Philippians 1:6). Let’s get to work.
Check out the picture of Diamond. Who could say no to such a cutie? More importantly, who could say no to our God?