I answered my phone, knowing it was one of my very close friends, and she said,”I know what I want to give you for your birthday present, but I need to first check to make sure that Craig (my husband) will agree to it.” She proceeded to tell me that she’d just gotten a shnorkie puppy—1/2 Yorkshire terrier and 1/2 Schnauzer— and there were litter mates available if I wanted one. She sent me a photo, and I was instantly smitten! So I immediately headed to my husband’s home office to plead my case to have one of the remaining puppies become my birthday present! We had a dog for most of our almost 41 years of marriage, but we hadn’t had one for a few years and my husband had been reluctant to get another one at this stage in our lives, especially since we have 3 cats. But as an empty-nester whose heart still longed for the companionship that a dog brings, unbeknownst to either my husband or my dear friend, I’d been scouring the internet for rescue puppies and dogs. And I specifically was looking for a lap dog that didn’t shed… exactly what a schnorkie is! God knew the desire of my heart, and I was overwhelmed with the thought that He had miraculously provided a puppy for me!
Almost immediately after he saw the pictures of the puppies— whether because he’s such a ‘softie or maybe because he hadn’t already gotten me a present— he gave me the ‘green light’ to at least meet with the people who had the puppies. When I called them, they informed me they had both a male and female available and asked me which one I wanted. Not certain, I said I’d be interested in seeing them both. It just so happened that my son and his family were staying with us and they thought they also might be interested in one of them, so the puppies’ owners came by our house to show us both puppies. They were BOTH so irresistibly adorable that we couldn’t choose which one we wanted to keep! So— ‘to cut to the chase’—we went from my husband saying we’d never have a dog again; to his ‘giving in’ to our looking at one puppy; to both of us considering keeping both puppies for ourselves after my son and his wife decided it wasn’t the right time for them to get a puppy.
It was such fun to watch the brother and sister duo interact with one another, and if you’re a dog person like I am, the only thing cuter than one puppy is two or more puppies together! However, it’s also true that the only thing that’s more work than one puppy is two puppies at the same time! My mind said that with my schedule I’d be crazy to keep them both, but my heart definitely said ‘yes’ to keeping both of them. I was so attached to both of them! My husband ‘put the ball in my court’ whether we would keep them both or look for a home for one of them, as well as which one we’d keep if we only kept one. With input from him and my daughter, we did determine that if we chose to only keep one it’d be the female, the runt of the litter.
It so happened that my next-door neighbor, a friend as well as dear sister-in-Christ but someone I rarely get to see because she has seven children who’re in a multitude of activities so she’s always going ‘here and there’, came over one day while I was out with both puppies. She was immediately smitten by them too! I mentioned that we hadn’t determined whether we were going to keep them both or not. She told me they were interested in getting a puppy, but it had to be a special one since one of their children was allergic to most dogs. Her daughter came over and didn’t have any negative reaction to the male puppy at all, and all of the kids who subsequently came over to play with him instantly fell in love with him too.My neighbor told me that if we weren’t going to keep the male to make sure to let her know as they would LOVE to have him!
I knew they wanted him, but… I wanted him too! And, he was mine to give, wasn’t he? At least that’s what I tried to tell myself. Although I love their whole family, I didn’t want to give him up even to them and later feel a sense of regret every time I saw him at their house.
I was in a state of turmoil. Should I keep them both, or give one of them away. I talked with family members and friends who I knew had raised litter mates to get their opinions, sought wisdom from the internet, and talked with my vet regarding the subject, all of which resulted in even greater consternation since I received conflicting opinions.
Finally, I did what I should have done right away. I sought the advise of the Lord! When I prayed and asked Him what I should do, I heard Him clearly say one word: sacrifice.
But even as I heard His Voice say that word to my spirit, I could almost feel Satan stirring the pot of my selfish desires in order for me to justify disobeying God. Below ware just a few of the thoughts that plagued me as I contemplated my decision, thoughts I realize that all were rooted in fear, the opposite of placing my faith in God. They were all vain imaginations based upon a lot of ‘what ifs’(2 Corinthians 10:5). And they were all ‘me’ versus ‘God’ or ‘other’ centered thoughts.
What if I kept the female, the runt of the litter, and she ended up having health issues, got hit by a car, or something else happened to her and she died, would I regret giving up the other puppy because then I’d be left with no dog at all?! I rationalized that if I kept both I wouldn’t have to worry about losing one because there’d always be the other one.
What if I gave the male away and he got run over, or something else bad happened to him? Would I always live with regret that I gave him away when he might have been safe if only I’d have kept him? Would my relationship with my neighbor be affected if he got hurt while under her family’s care?
What if I gave up the ‘wrong puppy’? What if the one I gave away would end up being the more attractive or better behaved or longer lived or better personality dog? I was so afraid I would ‘choose poorly’, so I thought that if I kept them both I wouldn’t have to be confronted with the results of my ‘poor decision’. I vividly remember being emotionally wrought after watching Meryl Streep play the main character in the movie “Sophie’s Choice”. In no way was my decision and especially the consequences of my choice comparable to the choice she had to make between her two children in that story, but like her, I felt paralyzed and unable to make a decision, and fearful that the one I would make would later haunt me.
I had to make a choice: was I going to succumb to my fears or listen to and obey the Voice of the Lord? I wish I could tell you that immediately after hearing God speak the word ‘sacrifice’ to me that I marched over with the puppy and took him to my neighbor. But I can’t do that because that’s not what I did. Instead, I wrestled with God. I had sleepless nights and during the day I tried to justify keeping both puppies. I vacillated back and forth, one day being completely willing to give him up, and the next day I couldn’t bear the thought of letting him go. Whenever I looked into his sweet eyes or when he came and cuddled next to me, I wondered, “How can I possibly let go of him?” I couldn’t believe how attached I felt to him in just a few short weeks!
Then the Lord spoke to my spirit again. He reminded me that both puppies were gifts to me from Him. He had not only given me one puppy, which was far more than I could have imagined—but He had done ‘exceedingly and abundantly more’— and had given me two! Now He was giving me the choice of what I would do with them, His gifts to me. I knew that He was asking me to give one up, but He wasn’t forcing me to…He was allowing it to be my choice. I knew He’d love me regardless of my choice; I also knew that because of His love for me, He was asking me to ‘let go’ of the puppy, to give him to my neighbor whom He desired to bless through my sacrifice, and that in turn He would bless me. I was convicted that He’d already blessed me beyond measure with the gift of one puppy, and I was being so selfish to want to hold on to both when He was giving me the opportunity to bless my neighbor as He had blessed me! He was also giving me the opportunity to be blessed for obeying Him.
I was especially convicted by the reality that God had given up something far, far more precious to Him than this puppy was to me…a puppy that I’d only had in my home a few weeks. I thought of the Israelites who were required to bring a lamb into their home each year and tend to it for four days before they sacrificed it for their Passover meal; I thought how attached they must have gotten to that precious, innocent lamb that they had to kill as a symbol of Jesus, the Passover Lamb Who would willingly shed His blood for all of us. Because of His love for me, you, and all of the people in the world, God the Father chose to sacrifice Jesus, His one and only beloved Son Whom He had known intimately and loved lavishly since the ‘foundation of the world’, so that all who would put their trust in Him could have abundant and eternal life through Him. So, given all that He had done— and continually does— to demonstrate the height, depth, width and length of His love for me, how could I possibly be unwilling to sacrifice a mere puppy— or anything else for that matter— if He asked me to?
It was while I was steeped in that reality and before I could succumb to my fleshly desire to keep the puppy, that I called my neighbor and told her I would be giving him to her family. She was overjoyed and we planned a time for her to get him so that she could surprise the whole family who so wanted him but weren’t expecting to get him.
Even knowing it was God’s will and that it’d be a joy for my neighbor’s family, it still wasn’t easy for me to hand him over to her; my tears flowed while I put him in her hands when she came to get him. God doesn’t tell us that our sacrifice will be easy or that it won’t be costly; He just lets us know that it will be worth it if we obey.
Even in the midst of my sorrow over the loss of that sweet puppy, I rejoiced in God’s goodness when I heard the resounding, jubilant exclamation of sheer and utter joy expressed by the entire household when my neighbor surprised her family with the gift of the puppy! Yes, I even heard the gleeful shouts all the way from my house! God reminded me that when He calls us to sacrifice something, it is always in order for us to be an instrument of ‘life giving’ to someone else, as well as a source of blessing and pleasure to Him! When we give away something we love, we are most like God, the Greatest, most Generous Giver the world has ever known—the One Who sacrificed His greatest love so we could have abundant as well as eternal life through Jesus, and so that the Name of Jesus would be glorified above all other names throughout all eternity! (John 10:10; 27-28; Philippians 2:9-11)
Oh, how great and amazing is the Father’s love for me and for you that He willingly sacrificed His Son for us ‘while we were yet sinners’! (Romans 5:8) The gift of salvation that Jesus’ blood purchased is free to us—as the puppy was to me and to my neighbor—and yet, it was the costliest gift that has ever been given! What an unbelievable act of love that our Heavenly Father sacrificed His beloved Son for you and for me!
I want to testify that I have no regrets whatsoever for giving away that precious puppy. I am so grateful to the Lord that He lovingly led me to the decision which I know has been such a blessing to my neighbors, and also to me. I have the joy of seeing their adorable puppy ‘Bear’ most every day and am thrilled to watch him play with our girl ‘Rosie’. I am grateful to have only one puppy to potty train and keep track of, and I’m loving the sweet companionship that I have with her, a bond we share that I’m confident is greater than it would’ve been if I’d kept her brother since the two of them would’ve been more preoccupied with each another and they’d have both been less engaged with me. I thank God that He gave me another clear cut example that when He asks us to give up something, it’s always because He knows what’s best for us…even when we don’t agree with Him, understand the ‘why’ of His request, or like what He’s asking of us.
So be encouraged! Know that when you put your trust in God and release to Him what you love, it will always be for the good of the one you love, for your good…as well as for His glory! He is the perfect ‘puzzle master’ Who alone is able to make ALL the pieces come together— for our good, for the good of the person or thing we love that we willingly ‘lay on the altar’ and give back to Him, and for His glory! ( For further study I encourage you to read Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, which resulted in his being known as ‘the Father of Faith’, and 1 Samuel 1:1-28; 2:21, 26 which recounts the story of Hannah who gave up her son Samuel; Hannah was richly blessed not only by knowing her son Samuel was a man mightily used by God, but she also was blessed with many more children)
What about you? Are you wrestling with God over a decision you need to make? Have you heard a word from Him that you wonder if you can trust? Is God asking you to let go of something that you’ve been clinging to? Are you reluctant to let go because of fear/s you have that you can’t really trust Him with what you love and are being asked to surrender to Him? May you listen to His Voice, obey Him, and know that He IS and will ALWAYS be ‘Faithful and True’ to do what is best for you, and He will do what is best for what you sacrifice to Him. Remember that it is He who has given you everything you have—whether a puppy, your house, your job, your health, or even your spouse or child—so you can always trust Jesus, Who has given you every perfect gift, including His very life for you, with every gift He has entrusted to you!
Jesus, give me a heart like yours at all times, willing to obey You and sacrifice whatever You ask of me, trusting that it is always for my good, for the good of others, and for Your glorious purposes! Amen!
Written by Julie