"The Shelter lIfe"
I came across this piece I wrote a couple of years ago and wanted to share it. The sentiment is certainly still true today. There are hundreds and thousands of people that are spending their day doing what they can to care for God’s creation, both animal and man, day in and day out. We often owe these stewards a debt of gratitude but we can also learn from them what it means to reflect GOd’s love into the world.
I walk into the room to the familiar sounds of barking, yipping, yapping, howling and growling. I could be at home, but no, I am at work. I work at a dog shelter.
But I don’t work at any old dog shelter. We don’t accept owner surrenders. You cannot just drop your dog off because it got a little old, peed on the carpet one too many times, happens to fart occasionally, or was a Christmas gift from that girlfriend that you no longer are seeing. Sadly there is a need for those shelters but that is not where I work. I work at a shelter for the truly neglected, abandoned, and abused. My shelter specializes in stray street dogs and abuse cases.
That’s right. Those poor guys you see slinking through alleys and digging in the trash for any scrap of food, any chance of nourishment. Those sweet trusting ladies that were overbred into illness and then tossed out with the garbage. Lost souls, their only crime trusting people that have moved on leaving them to starve to death in vacant homes. Through the eyes of the innocent victims I have seen the worst of people.
Victims whose faces have been pushed into acid. Victims shot, stabbed and bludgeoned. Victims with wire or tape wrapped so tightly around their faces or bodies that their limbs swell and their bodies are slowly cut in half. I have seen innocent caring eyes poking out of fire damaged faces. I have been licked with love as wooden skewers worked their way out of damaged flesh. I have seen the conflict and confusion in the eyes of animals that have never known a kind word or gentle touch. Oh yes, I have seen the worst in people. Genesis 6:5 ~ And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imaginations of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Oh yes, left to ourself we have strayed far from the path of love.
Wait, wait, wait before we go to far down that path I must say that I live with hope in my heart. It is a fire of hope kindled with love and fed with faith. It is a fire of hope that cannot be put out for it transcends the world around me. Yes I know, after seeing all that day after day how can I live with faith, love and hope in my heart? Well it starts with the fact that the faith in my heart is founded on a love that far surpasses the world around us. Romans 5:8 ~ But God commandeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
If God can overlook all my mistakes and sins, if He can see the potential and value within me, if He can love me enough to give a very part of Himself to pay the tab for my mistakes and guide me to be better can I not at least try to do the same. John 15:12 ~ This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Don’t get me wrong! I never claim that this is an easy task. As a matter of fact, sometimes living with love and hope is not even a fun task. But I am so thankful that God did not give up on me, that I cannot give up on myself, or others for that matter.
Yes some days are tough seeing the worst in people but I am also blessed to see the best in people. I see my coworkers with tears in their eyes and kindness in their touch. I see men and woman that go far above and beyond a small paycheck to nurse
the wounded back to health, to heal broken bodies and broken spirits. I see the people I work with wear themselves out trying to show that there is kindness and love in the world. With small pay and long hours they come back day after day to do whatever they can to help the hurting, sometimes at physical risks to themselves with fearful and defensive dogs that have only survived on the streets by being tougher than those around them. I see our founder day after day risking his life going into areas he is not welcome if it means saving a life.
For my part I believe God made me to serve. To love my brothers and sisters and to be a good steward to the world around me. I don’t always succeed. I stumble; I stray; I make mistakes. I often struggle with the pain I see every day in the world around me. But God gives me strength when I need it, most often through the loving eyes of the very dogs I care for. Oh yes, I do my part to help save them but at the same time they help save me. I have worked in many places with many people but rarely have I been blessed to work with so many compassionate people always willing to offer a shoulder to cry on or a hug of support. Yes I see the worst of people but I am not going to focus on that; instead, I will focus on the love that I am surrounded with every day, the best in people.
And I haven’t even started on how wonderful the volunteers are but I will leave that for another day and another blog and say only that I love them all.