“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, YOUR COMFORTS DELIGHT MY SOUL.” Psalms 94:19
Have you ever experienced a difficult situation that normally would ‘rock your boat,’ turn it upside down and leave you wading in the deep waters, filled with dismay, fear and angst? This time though, when the hardship tries to overtake you, your boat is perfectly still, the waters are calm, the sun is shining…You have to pinch yourself to make sure your awake….then it hits you…God Himself has rescued you before your familiar responses to the adversity you are facing, present themselves. The calamity is still present, what has changed is your reaction and all the natural emotions that you expected to surface, did not materialize. Your in total amazement at the supernatural grace of God.
The Lord does do this for us and I personally call them “Special delivery’s.” SPECIAL, because they are an ‘out of the ordinary,” wondrous gift of God’s grace. I wish this experience would happen each time trouble comes knocking on our door, but more often than I’d prefer, my boat does gets rocked, sometimes I stay on board, sometimes I flip with the boat, and cry out to the Lord and He brings me out of the water, ministering hope , peace, and His mighty strength, bringing me back to His perspective of the circumstance at hand. I love this promise of comfort from God in Psalms 94, when things are not going as we had hoped, expected or we are hit by one of life’s tumultuous storms. Life is full of stresses that cause us to be anxious, worrisome and tempt us to take matter into our own hands, instead of making the choice to depend upon the Lord, and wait for the comforts He has in mind to minister to our souls. Sometimes His peace alone is our comfort as no-thing can bring us the peace of Jesus, not even another person. Other times, He may chose to give us His peace accompanied by a tangible gift, to bring our lives a joy and comfort in the midst of a trying time…Its His choice and that is where I long to be all the time, letting Him choose for me and not trying to comfort myself.
This story takes place at a time in my life when my husband was in a tremendous amount of emotional pain from a great loss… I felt so inadequate of how to make his pain go away or to console his heartache. I had prayed and asked God to comfort his hurt, but watching his pain broke my heart, thus, instead of persevering in the Lord, (and waiting and trusting in Jesus to comfort Kit,) I decided to DO SOMETHING I thought would bring him comfort as well as our household. All I can say is two things…Thank the Lord that He works all things together for our good and that He loves us unconditionally and is in the business of fixing the things we mess up…(OK I guess that is three things! )
At this time, we were living in a little 2 bedroom home, on the back of my cousin Mikes, ample acres nestled in the beautiful countryside of the Carolinas. He and his family lived in an historic Antebellum home, (which we all called the “Big House,” ) that Kit Graham and I frequented often. One afternoon, the phone rang and as I saw Kit speaking to his younger sister, his countenance competently changed. His father, Al, who lived in Arizona, had died. We both knew that he had been ill for some time, but even with that preparation and knowledge, a heart is never truly prepared to lose a father. Kits dad was many wonderful things in his life, a mentor, confidante, fishing buddy , a hunting partner, an encourager, but most of all , he was his best friend. The joy on their two faces, when Kit asked his dad to be his best man at our wedding was an endearing sight I will never forget. Al was a cowboy at heart, lived on many gorgeous acres of land in the mountains of Arizona, loved horses, his family and was an amazing father in law and great dad. It was a very sad time in our lives.
The memorial service would be held in Arizona and both Kit and I had a knowing that he was to fly out to be with his family and I would stay home with Graham.
During the few days before Kit would be flying back to Arizona, Mike and Ellie offered to take Kit and I to one of their favorite eateries, Percy and Willies, for lunch. Bless their hearts, they both loved Kit so much and desired to spend some quality time with him, to ask him about his father and how he was doing as well as if there was anything they could do for us.
Pulling on Kits arm, I asked him; “Please honey, can we just go over and look at the puppies?
He smiled and said “Yes.” (Perhaps with a little reluctancey in his voice, but he was already walking over to the grassy knoll.)
Seeing these little guys was beyond heartening…besides my comments of “Oh my goodness look at this one,” and “Oh Kit, this one is so adorable,” Kit already had his eye on a chubby little Saint Bernard pup. I have to admit, he was by far, the cutest of the bunch and would grow up to be a gentle giant just like Grantham. I was imagining the two of them, running through the yard, frolicking and playing together, their hair blowing in the wind…before my imagination got to wild, Kit kind of burst my bubble when he said;
“Susan, I think we need to really pray about this and go have lunch. We will make a decision and if we feel its a “yes” from the Lord , we will come back after eating and get the puppy.”
Being denied my “instant gratification,” accompanied by the possibility this cute little tyke would already be adopted when we came back, I hesitantly said, “Okay.”
Our lunch with Mike and Ellie was eminently refreshing. The food was absolutely delicious and I could seek how much it meant to Kit to have Mike and Ellie seek him out and ask him all kinds of questions about his father, as well as express their heart felt condolences. Mike and Ellie were both close to their fathers and had a great empathy for Kits loss. After sharing a decadent dessert, and one last cup of southern coffee, we headed back to the parking lot, (and the puppy adoption,) as Mike and Ellie drove home to be with the boys.
When Kit and I went back to look at the pups… Lo and behold, our little St Bernard was already adopted… my heart just sank. Why was I so head strong on having to get a puppy that day? The day before, it was not even a thought in my mind. In hindsight, I know that I had this overwhelming notion that a puppy, (an iconic symbol of love and joy all wrapped up in one,) would bring our household some lightness, hope and some added felicity to help bring healing to Kits aching heart.
Neither Kit nor myself had really stopped to pray about this decision..sure we sent up a few hopeful thoughts to God like “Please Lord let us have a puppy,” or “Lord this puppy would be perfect for Graham.” (OK, I shot up those thoughts.) In all actuality, we could never say that Gods assurance of peace filled our hearts that it was a “YES”, in fact, Kit was ready to head back to the car, when suddenly, I found ANOTHER puppy that caught my eye. Don’t you know that my emotions were getting the best of me? I was seeing the joy this little puppy was bestowing to us and I just assumed God was saying YES to our prayers. This captivating and winsome little creature came right over to me wagging her tale like crazy. She jumped up on my leg, summoning my heart to pick her up….she began kissing me, putting her head on my shoulder and everyone around me was saying, “She has just really taken to you two, you guys should adopt her.”
I looked at Kit and he was shaking his head as he gave me a half way smile…We began talking back and forth of the pros and cons… then he said;
“OK Susan, but this little puppy is your responsibility. Are you going to spend the time training her and taking care of her?”
Of course I said yes! (My belief factor being very high that she would bring wondrous comfort to our household.) Now if that St Bernard had still been there, I bet Kit would have jumped on adopting that brawny, manly little guy, in a spit second.
Griffin (yes, we named her immediately ,) was already asleep , her head softly laying upon my shoulder as we drove home. she was an 8 week old yellow lab puppy with the biggest brown eyes you have ever seen. We made a quick stop at the pet store to get some puppy food as well as Natures Miracle, (just in case she had any accidents.) A cleaning solution that got us through our training days with Graham. I could hardly wait to introduce her to her new big brother. As we were driving on the country road that led to our home, Kit reached over and rubbed Griffins forehead a few times and said how cute she was, as he reminded me; ” Now she really is YOUR dog,”
The first sign of a ‘red flag’ that perhaps we may have made a mistake, was Grahams unpretentious, “Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me,” reaction as he saw her. (I was still in the overcoming stage) so I didn’t allow it discourage me.
Graham upon seeing her and trying to decide if she was just visiting or was going to move in, barked continuously at her, growled, bared his teeth, turned away from her (and us) and pouted . Griffin on the other hand, tried to kiss him, played with his (non-wagging) tail, jumped on his back and flirted profusely.(To no avail of course.) When she saw he was not interested , she just moved on to other things, exploring her new home, eating a little lunch, checking out her crate and finally fell fast asleep. Graham was still pouting.
I helped Kit get packed for his trip and made our Sunday dinner…We were all feeling a little melancholy that evening. Kit and I because we hated to be apart and he knew going back to see his family would be both a comfort as well as a difficult time emotionally. Graham was still offended that we would even think of bringing another dog into our lives. (He had always been Numero uno.) Little Griffin was on cloud nine…she would wake up from her naps, and instead of being playful and full of energy, (like new puppies are,) she was serene, calm, docile and extraordinarily loving. All she seem to want was to be held.
As we got ready to leave for the airport in Raleigh to see Kit off, Griffin was acting a bit strange…she was lethargic and eminently quiet. Kit and I both could feel in our spirits something was not right. We loaded up our jeep, Griffin in her crate with Graham beside her on his tapestry bed . She slept the entire drive to North Carolina. We prayed over her in the car, hugged each other and said our goodbyes to Kit and headed back to the house.
Kit called to say his flight was great and that he was with all of his family. I let him know how Griffin was doing and he reassured me he would be praying for her. (And Graham and I.)
By 9:00 PM Monday night, I called up to the “Big House,” to ask if Ellie knew of a good vet in town and shared about how Griffin was acting. Ellie wanted to see the puppy for herself and upon holding her, she agreed that Griffin was very sick. She called her vet but there was no answer, so I waited until the next day.
Early the next morning I drove to the vet, Griffin in her crate and Graham in the front seat. We all went into the office and as we were waiting, Grahams mood picked up… I don’t know if it was because the others waiting for their appointments fell in love with him and kept telling him how beautiful he was, or that he had an ingrained sense that Griffin was sick and his heart was beginning to care about her. (That was my hope.)
Upon Griffins examination and blood work, the vet’s face revealed her diagnosis, before he spoke the words out loud. A disease I had never heard before, Griffin had the Parvovirus. He said he did not expect her to live through the night, barring a miracle, as this disease, especially in puppies was fatal. He said she needed to be kept over night so he could put her on an IV and then administered the vaccine to Graham as Parvo was highly contagious.
Graham and I got back in the car to go home and I felt nauseous… This new little bundle of joy was sick with a highly contagious and fatal virus and may die. My predominate thought was clothed in fear…What if Graham has the disease as well? Just the thought of losing our precious Grantham had me in tears. Never in a million years had I thought about this possibility when we adopted our new puppy…It was then I wished that I knew for sure, adopting this puppy was the will of God and that we had heard a great big ‘YES’ from Him, the day we brought her home, as my heart was filled with a gripping angst. As we drove back to the house, Graham kept looking for Griffin in disbelief that she was not coming home with us.
Now, if there was one thing I was sure of, it was God is in the business of MIRACLES…I called Tina and our friends in Milford, Mike and Ellie and everyone I could think of to pray for this little, sweet puppy as well as Graham…The Lord gave me such a peace and my heart embodied a hope.
Graham slept with me that night, continuously looking for Griffin…
Th vets office called the next morning for me to come in…As Graham and I entered his examining room, he brought Griffin out and said; “I have never seen anything like this…it is truly a miracle. She is functioning 100% and the blood work is showing no signs of the parvovirus left in her body. ”
Griffins eyes were beaming…she was full of energy, kissing me and wanting to go home. I thanked God for his graciousness and healing. I was shocked when Graham put his head up on the exam table and kissed Griffin, but quickly turned his head, not wanting to get her hopes up, (that he cared.)
We drove home and everyone was elated to hear the good news that God had saved Griffins life. Now my docile, serene and peaceful puppy was full of energy, running like crazy all over our home, she would not sit still. She no longer had the desire to cuddle and trying to get her into her crate was a losing battle. I discovered that Griffin was a runner..meaning, when she pushed her way through the screen door, she was long GONE. Living on acres of land with a busy highway on one side and the undomesticated woodlands on the other, her traveling adventures were limitless. Graham and I would go out together searching for her. (No she did not respond to my calls.) Upon finally finding her, I tried to secure the screen door, but she always found her way out again. This was a daily activity that was not pleasurable, nor comforting. The next morning, before sunrise, she managed to get out through the door, (even though I thought this time it was positively secured.) I threw on my bathrobe and grabbed some slippers and began our search and rescue attempts. Her choice of a morning run was the woods.There we were, tromping through the wet mud, (yes, we had a rainstorm the evening before,) calling out her name and trying to listen for any sound in the dark to tell us where she was … the farther we went into the woods, the darker is got…suddenly, not seeing a fallen tree stump, I tripped and fell on my face in a mud puddle. Graham just stood there looking at me as I began to complain out loud to the Lord… (Why do we always murmur to Him when He has nothing to do with the little mishaps we get ourselves into?) Still searching, to no avail, in tears and totally frustrated, I headed back to the house and there she was… wagging her tail, her feet covered in mud and looking at me as if to say ,”Hey, I have had a great invigorating time of exercise and would like my breakfast now.”
Kit would call several times a day from Arizona…he shared how much God was ministering to him and his famiy and that the trip out was such a comfort for him as they all were sharing stories and happy memories of their dad. He assured me he’d be home soon and would help with little Griffin. I had to smile as Kit spoke the words of how comforted he was, spending time with his family…God was already doing what I had asked and it certainly was not coming through our new furry addition.
That night, between Griffins barking, cries and constant movement trying to get out of her crate , accompanied by Grahams sighs and discontent, I didn’t sleep…
My days were filled with thinking up creative ways to bring about a “love connection” between our two precious cargo’s… I took Grantham, (who was not a runner) outside without a leash and Griffin , I put on a very long leash. In hopes that they would play together, I threw them a ball, gave them their play toys, an tried to implement positive thoughts within Grahams mind to PLEASE give her a chance. It was just not happening. In bringing them inside , there was no peace within our little abode, unless Griffin was sleeping, which was not often as she truly had the energy, (all day long) of a person who had just consumed five double espresso shots!
Vito was near North Carolina on one of his ministry trips so he kindly offered to pick Kit up and bring him home from the airport… Graham and I were ecstatic to see them both…I could finally take a shower and have a half hour to myself while Vito and Kit did Griffin patrol. Graham could not get enough of Vito and Kits attention…finally he was feeling like a part of his home was back together.
Vito prayed for us, Griffin and Graham. (They were both fighting for his attention.) We asked Vito if he felt we had made a mistake adopting her, (hoping he would ease my guilt,) and he would not say. He just kept encouraging us to look for God in the midst of the circumstances going on.
After Vito left, Griffin got kennel cough… Which meant that every night when we were all going to bed, ( her crate next to my side of the bed, and Grantham laying besides Kits,) and entering into that glorious moment of “I’m just about to fall asleep,” the loud coughing and hacking began, and it went on all night long. Kit would get up and go out to the couch, but our little abode was so small, it didn’t really matter…it was keeping him up all night. We got her the liquid vaccine drops for her cough but were told it would take a while to heal.
Kit was unable to concentrate on his work during the day as he was so tired from all his sleepless nights. We were beginning to get short with one another, Graham was still ignoring Griffin and our household was not happy. The comfort I had so hoped and believed would come with this new little life, was not occurring.
After sitting down and assessing all the ‘positive verses negative affects’ going on since Griffin arrived, Kit and I prayed and felt to call the woman at the adoption agency and tell her what was going on. She reassured us that Griffin would not be put down but would be adopted again and that “these things do happen.” We had asked Tina and family members in South Carolina if they wanted to take Griffin…they all did, but felt they could not, due to the animals they already had. It was difficult at most, but Kit and I both were in agreement that we needed to take her back to the agency .
I hadn’t realized how attached I had become to this rambunctious, mischievous and adorable little puppy...my heart ached as I held her and said my goodbyes. Graham and I stayed at the house as Kit took her back to her original home.
As I sat there on the couch, thinking about the last 11 days of our life, I was totally exhausted. I felt very blessed that Griffin was healthy, that God had healed her of parvovirus and that He allowed us to be a part of that miracle. I was also pleased that we were able to send her back with plenty of puppy food and a crate. I did believe God had a new family for her, one that was ready for her, that would love her with all their hearts and perhaps even have another dog that would take her in as a little sister.(As that was not gong to happen with Grantham.)
Mostly, I knew I owed God, Kit and Graham an apology. My desire to bring some joy and comfort to our-household was not at all what I had done. I had brought chaos, extra expenses, sleepless nights, opened the door for Graham to get sick, and had turned his world upside down. I never thought it through that being “an only child,” and so closely knit to Kit and I, (the Three musketeers through our journey,) that Graham would feel vehemently threatened by a new addition to our family. I believe if I had been still and patient, choosing to trust that God , in His way and time would bring our home and Kit, comfort in the loss of his dad, and listened for His answer about Griffin and not assumed, that I would have heard the Lord say; “No, this is not the right time.”
Being the gracious and loving Father that He is…everything worked out for our good… our home was back to normal and filled with peace.
Kits heart was healing as God ministered to him in many ways…( God knew far more than I, how to meet Kits needs in the loss of his dad.)
I felt relieved of duty, able to work on my writing without wondering what Griffin was doing or what she was up to. (Though I did miss holding her, cuddling together and her bright, voluminous brown eyes.)
Now, I think twice before taking on something that I think would comfort my heart or the heart of someone I love who is in pain. I am making every effort to leave this job in the department it belongs in…The God department. I still believe that often times the Lord gives us palpable things for our comfort and puppies are a great joy. (When we get a big ‘thumbs up’ from heaven.)
I will never forget one of the Lords tangible comforts in my life while my heart was experiencing a great case of the “homesick blues.” My mom and best friend in life, moved with my father to South Carolina. Naturally, my mom and I thought I would be going with them…well, the Lord said no. He had blessed me with a promotion in my job in California and told me to stay. My mom and I were heartbroken to say goodbye…I was barely 19 years old and had never lived away from home.
One fall evening, a friend asked me to go to a dinner party with her. Reluctantly I said yes, but was not looking forward to it as I was missing my mom so much. When we sat down at the beautifully set table the hostess began serving the main entree for the evening…I could not believe it…she had made the very meal that my mom made me every year for my birthday…my favorite dinner. Not only did it have all the exact ingredients my mom used, but it tasted just as if my mom were in that kitchen cooking that night. I could almost hear her endearing southern accent , speaking the words I’d remember forever… “Suzie, (only she could call me that,) we may not be together in person right now, but we will always be together in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.” I know the Lord was smiling and my eyes welled up a few times at the graciousness of God to care about something so small and bless me with a touch of my mom as we were each living on separate coasts. To the Lord, His comforts are not measured by how significant they seem to others, He only cares that He is comforting the very need within our hearts as we are His precious kids.
I am finding as I grow older, (and am maturing in the Lord,) that I am thoroughly content in the comfort of His presence as He hides me under His wings of peace in my trials, giving me comfort through His songs of deliverance within my heart. He is the God of all comfort and in His presence, we are comforted in a way no person or thing can match. I do enjoy His tangible comforts along the way as they take me right to His heart and I smile that He would do something so thoughtful for me. His loving kindness fills my heart with gratitude…Tell me, how can fear, dismay and angst stand tall in the midst of a heart that is filled with indebtedness and thanksgiving?
“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. Psalms 32: 6,7
Turn your speakers up and bask in the reminder that the Lord is YOUR comforter, safe hiding place and your deliverer. ENJOY!
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