I woke up this morning at 0458 to the sound of dog whimpering, no, screaming in pain. I jumped out of bed. Jackie had beat me out of bed and was standing at the door looking into the hallway. “River is dying, Josh,” she said dejectedly.
We had just bought this puppy 3 months ago. Last week the railroad came through and sprayed the abandoned railroad tracks behind our house (and subsequently the stream of water running next to the tracks) with a bright blue substance we decided must have been Round-up. River, our puppy, loved to drink out of that stream, and we realized too late.
The next day River was sick. She wouldn’t eat. She was throwing up. She was lethargic. She began having regular seizures. After a couple of days like this we took her to the vet. He ruled out Parvo, took X-rays with nothing out of the ordinary except swollen intestines and wasn’t sure what was wrong with her. $400 later and with few answers, we took her home. Jackie force fed her food for almost a week. Several trips to the vet revealed nothing new. Just a puppy who appeared to lack a desire for life and was dying.
And now, here she was, lying on the floor screaming in pain, scooting in circles in her own urine in the hallway. To this point she had shown no symptoms of pain. I knew what I had to do. The kids had woken up and were gathered around in the dining room. We had a movie night last night and they’d slept in the fort we’d built in the living room. There was no hiding this from them.
I asked Jackie to take the kids into the room and talk with them while I went and put River down. When I came back in the kids had a few questions, but they’d been watching River and we’d been preparing them for a few days that she was probably going to die. Everybody slowly went back to bed as the excitement faded.
I lay awake thinking about the difficulties of the last 2 months. God had told me to go ahead with my teen center. This is a calling of which I know nothing. It is a big step that is daunting, if not terrifying. There are so many ways to fail. And, I hate failure.
In this same time period, I’d learned that our sending church had in fact sold the property where we conduct ministry to another church. While the new church had made the gracious offer to let us stay, God had said our next step was to leave the property in Smiths Ferry and its successes and failures behind.
Apparently that meant living in a fifth wheel, because one just dropped in our lap for the money he’d provided us. This, again, is terrifying. I know nothing about fifth wheels. I don’t know how I’m going to live in a 400 square foot area with my 3 very energetic little girls.
“Everything seems up in the air. Everything seems to be in chaos. Everything is wrong.” I silently prayed to a God who I knew was listening as I lay in bed wishing I could go back to sleep. “I can’t even watch over a puppy right now, apparently.”
What God whispered to me as I lay in bed is the most comforting and most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard in my life. It is the reason I even reveal some of these trials to you today.
“I’m allowing everything, your job, your house, your identities, and yes, even your extra puppy who you didn’t have room for in this new paradigm, to be taken from you. I’m not doing it to test you. It is your blessing for being obedient. For right now, you have a church family to catch you while these things are stripped away. The day is coming soon where everyone in the church will follow. And, while everyone’s life is ‘falling apart,’ and everyone will be ‘every man for himself,’ you will stand on a solid rock and provide the help needed to establish the Body known for its love and unity.”
Am I someone special? I don’t think so. I think every person who pursues God has good works to walk in which he has prepared from the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10).
I share this very personal glimpse into my life and what I think God is saying and doing to be an encouragement. God is way ahead of your trials. He is way ahead of your wants and desires and is preparing for your needs. He is mostly concerned with your sanctification.
No matter the trials you are going through, if you are pursuing God, you will find the purposes for which you have been created. It might look like trials. But it is good.
Because, God is good.