Monday, March 30, 2015

Second Chances: Trinity's Story

Second Chances, aka Trinity's (and our) Story

What do you always get when you go on vacation? Gifts for friends/family back home? Memento's for you to remember your trip by? Items you found that you wanted while shopping the sales in far away stores? A dog?

What? A dog?

Yep. We went on vacation and brought home a dog. A BIG dog.

We have a dear friend, Melissa Gentry, who runs a dog rescue in Mountain City, TN called Rescue DOG & End of Life Sanctuary. She had posted a pic of a Pit Bull that was in their care and my wife saw the dog's pic on Facebook just days before we left for vacation. She was determined that she was going to see that dog and bring her home.

So we enjoyed our vacation time, getting to actually spend time with our friends both at their work and at the rescue.

Finally, the day before we leave, Sheri works it out where she can come see Trinity, the Pit Bull. 6 pm that evening we arrive at the rescue, and Melissa, her mom and another worker are in the yard, and there is Trinity bouncing around on a tie-out. It was almost like watching a slow-mo movie of an overblown reunion the way the two of them locked eyes and ran to each other. A match made in heaven. Well, we took her back to our cabin, Country Cordwood Cabin in Butler TN (shameless plug for such great people) for the night before we left the next morning to come back home. She was great. She gave a lot of kisses and loved to snuggle on the couch. Slept in the bed with us and never once tried to get up until that morning when she needed to go out and potty. We brought her home and she has done great, even adjusting to yet another new house, and more new people, and 4 other dogs that were there before her.

Okay, you did something a little different on your vacation, but what does that have to do with second chances?

Let me fill you in on the backstory of Trinity, or Trin as we now call her. (my wife is not a fan of 3 syllable dog names... don't ask … dunno.) Trin had a home and a family. She had the human family, and she had her own family, with newborn pups that she was doing great at caring for. There was a 5 year old girl in the family also, and one day she approached Trin while she was nursing/caring for her pups. Natural reaction for an animal mom who is caring for their young is to protect them from any perceived threat, and so she snipped at the girl. Did not draw blood, but most likely, she did scare the girl a bit. Trin, who the vet says may be as old as 3 years, had evidently been in the family for most of her life, was suddenly taken to the vet by the father and told to “put her down.” (We do not know what happened to the pups, only that in the fathers words “They were taken care of.” I shudder to think of the meaning that phrase denotes). Seeing that the dog was clearly no threat to anyone, the vet called Melissa at the rescue and asked her if she could take the dog. She agreed and brought her to the rescue. She was tested fully and passed every test in health and obedience (in Melissa's words .. “With Flying Colors and Better Than Most Dogs”) that is given to any dog, especially breeds that are considered “dangerous breeds.” She was updated completely on her shots and kept at the rescue in a kennel until she could be adopted. That is where we came in.

Now, I want to address how this illustrates the way God's love (and hopefully all of mankind's, especially Christians!) works.

The father handled this badly in our thoughts. Yes, he most likely overreacted when Trin snipped at the girl. She was doing what is natural to any breed, to protect their puppies. What he should have done was to use this as a lesson to the 5 year old as to how to handle any animal that she may encounter who has children in her care. But he didn't. Suddenly Trin found herself being punished for something that she didn't see as being wrong with a sentence of Death. There she was, one moment enjoying a life of ease, and the next, ostracized from everything and everyone that she was familiar with. And now she was sent to die at the hands of someone she didn't know.

Have you ever done this to someone? Have you ever overreacted in the moment, causing them to be ostracized from you and possibly family and friends over something that they didn't see as wrong, and you misconstrued in the wrong way? I have unfortunately been a victim of this very thing. But more on that in another blog, another time. And I suspect a lot of people who are reading this right now have had to suffer this very same act by someone close to them. It is devastating to all involved eventually.

But I also want to know if you've ever been given a second chance by someone else who saw you for what you are, and loved you anyway. The bible is full of such acts of love, in both the Old and the New Testament.

God's love is shown especially to Abraham, the man considered to be “Father” to the nation of Israel. Both he and his wife Sarah wanted a child. But in their 80's, time was running out and Abraham had lost hope and faith in God to deliver. So he slept with a handmaiden and wound up with a child. Now, God could have said, “You know what, you just couldn't wait until my plan unfolded and you had a son, you had to go and do it yourself. So, you're stuck with that. Forget about you and Sara getting a son by me. You're done, you'll have to deal with what you got.” Nope, he didn't do that. In the end, Sara had a son named Issac. You can read more about this starting in Genesis chapter 17.

God also allows Jonah (you can read his story in the book of the bible by the same name, or read my version of the story here), a second chance when he refuses to go to Nineveh to preach the gospel. Jonah is swallowed by a large fish (a whale maybe?), and eventually coughed back up and winds up on dry land. He goes to Nineveh, and many people are saved, and his life is spared.

In John Chapter 8 we read a story of a woman who is caught in bed with another man and dragged into the streets to be stoned by a crowd of people. The religious leaders of the day asked Jesus what should be done and in the end, the woman's life is spared because of what Jesus tells her and the angry mob at the scene. (You have to read this one! Don't have a bible, Google it, there are many sites where you can read the bible for free.)

These are just a few of the situations in the bible that come to mind as I write this where people received 2nd chances and their lives were even made better by it.

God also gives us second chances. You see, Adam and Eve really screwed things up when they decided to listen to Satan, who appeared as a serpent to them in the Garden of Eden. Because of their actions, man was condemned to death for his sins for the rest of all generations. For those who didn't believe in God and would not follow His words, their fate would be eternity in Hell. And who could blame Him. God had given Adam and Eve everything that they could possibly need and want in one place, with no work needed on their part, and all he asked was just don't mess with this one tree. Simple. Yet they chose not to listen to God and they ate the forbidden fruit anyway.

Yet, God chose to give us a second chance at living a life for Him, first when he made a way to use sacrifices in the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament when He sent his Son named Jesus to live on this earth, die on a cross for our sins, and then rise again to one day come back and take us all to Heaven. He didn't have to do it. He could have said, “Oh well, you had your chance, you ticked me off, now deal with it. I hope you die and rot in Hell” Nope, instead He watched his Son die a HORRENDOUS death for no reason that was justified, just so that we could have a chance at life with Him one day.

Now if that isn't a Second Chance, I don't know what is. And He still gives us second chances today. It is called “forgiveness” which is offered any time that we ask such for our sins, no matter how great or small we perceived them to be.

Trinity received that second chance when she was taken to the rescue instead of being euthanized at the veterinarian's office. That vet saw something in her that was worth saving, something that was worth giving her a second chance, and now she is enjoying that life with us for the rest of her days.

Now for the part that is hard for anyone. Who have you “sentenced to death” in your life previously? A friend, a coworker, a relative, a fellow Christian or church member (those two are not always the same!).

I was once given that sentence of death, then spared and I'm currently working on being restored to my original place again. Are you someone who is currently awaiting for your sentence to be carried out, or has it already been? Did you know that God will give you another chance, no matter what the world sees and says about you? I believe that this process is already happening now as I write this, and my restoration will be complete soon. I pray that yours will be too. Just get right with God, ask Him to restore you and believe that He will. I don't speak “Dog-ese”, but I'm sure that Trin asked for that very same thing also, and she received it. Did it affect her mentally and emotionally? I have no doubt. Our experiences leave scars that we all have to carry around. Some are obvious, some are hidden.

But our God is a loving God who sees all of you, your good, your bad, your scars, your wounds, and He loves you anyway. I'll close with a verse that most of you all know, but it still bares repeating, especially in times like these.

John 3:16 NIV  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

And just know to all who read this, I love you too.

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