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From Fear to Trust

Romans 11: 33-36

We first noticed her in the backyard under the hedge scared to death. She was actually trembling. How or why she had been mistreated was a mystery, but she was really skittish. She was also really hungry and lonesome, so she compromised. She stifled her fear just enough to let us see her, but she wouldn’t let us touch her. And whenever we saw her’pathetic, frightened little creature’we fed her. She won the first round.

Her red hair was matted and dirty, but she looked pretty well-fed. (We didn’t know until later that this well-fed look was due to her being “great with child”!) Our boys were patient. They didn’t rush the relationship. They would just talk to her gently and give her tidbits. They called her “Friend.” Eventually’after she’d decided that we were safe’she wound up sleeping on the back doorstep. She was literally covered with ticks and fleas, so we coaxed her into the car and took her for the full treatment at the vet. We won the second round.

Friend was the first longhaired dachshund I had ever seen, and her trip to the beauty shop was nothing short of miraculous. It opened our back screen door for her and made her world much wider and more comfortable, for she was soon sleeping on the kitchen floor. And so began our days with sweet little Friend.

She had her puppies, the first that our family had ever produced, and so we all acted pretty much like new fathers’hovering and talking and watching and wishing this uncomfortable, painful event would hurry up and be over. She had them in the middle of the night without our help. She won that round, too.

What a devoted little mother she was! Her every thought centered around those five demanding pups.

I remember the day I decided I should take over some of the mothering duties for Friend. It was dark and chilly in the garage, so I took the pasteboard-box bassinet with all the babies in it and set it out on the driveway in the sunshine. “Don’t worry, Friend. This sunshine will be good for your babies. I’ll help you watch over them.”

Wade and I watched’got tired of watching’and disappeared back into the house from Friend’s view. When we went out later, one of the puppies was gone! I panicked. Oh, what have I done? I’ve always heard that male dogs will kill puppies. But I didn’t hear anything. He was so little! How could he have climbed out of the box? What am I going to do?

As always, my first response to the panic was to call Bill. “Have you prayed about it?” he asked. Well, that didn’t exactly seem like the most practical step to take at the time, but Wade and I got down on our knees in the middle of the kitchen floor and prayed about Friend’s problem.

Friend’s problem? I was her problem. Her children, in her opinion, did not need sunshine and fresh air, and as Wade and I stepped out the backdoor we saw the “culprit” who was kidnapping the puppies. (You talk about instant answers to prayer!) Friend had Chubby in her mouth, carrying him to the shadows and safety under the house. There were two others already there in the chilly darkness. Wade had to crawl under and retrieve them, and I carefully put them back in the garage. Friend won that round hands down.

The time came when the puppies didn’t need a mother’they needed someone to romp and play with. So we had a “crazy puppy giveaway” up on the campus, and all of her little ones found homes where they would be loved and well cared for. Friend could finally relax and sleep on the kitchen floor.

She didn’t live with us very long. She didn’t live very long. And it was an unhappy Gillham brood that reminisced that first night without Friend. . . .

“Do you remember how scared she was when she first came?”

“Remember how the ticks started falling off? They were crawling around on the back doorstep.”

“Well, we didn’t have her very long, but she was sure a sweet little dog, wasn’t she?”

“Boy, I miss her.”

Friend, in her quiet, gentle way won our love. But then we won her love too. We took care of her and stroked her and talked to her and let her sleep in the kitchen. . . .

There are a lot of us like Friend, scared of You, Lord. We’re all covered with unpleasant things and wonder if You will have anything to do with us. Some of us have glaring problems. But You don’t run us off. You care for us, and sometimes You have to coax us to do things that You know will be best for us.

The wonder of it all is that You love us from the very beginning when we’re hiding in the darkness out under the hedge and You don’t stop loving us when we get close enough for You to see everything that’s wrong with us. Why do we insist on limiting Your love to only beautiful people? You don’t even look at the outside. You see the potential what a trip to Your “beauty shop” will do for us.

Thank You, Lord, that You saw the potential in me. I certainly wasn’t very lovely, but You accepted me and patiently cared for me.

And I finally understood that You were safe.

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.