Wednesday I came home for lunch and I noticed that there were garbage-men on the street a day earlier than usual. Then I noticed one of them got out of the truck and picked up a puppy that was running in the street and playing in the median. I went and retrieved the puppy, erroneously believing that I would help this young pup reunite with her family. Technically, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was uniting her for the first time with MY family.
Even though I only had an hour at home for lunch, by the end of the hour I was calling her Chai. I thought it was because she looked like a Chiweenie (a mix between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund) but now I believe this is just part of God’s grand orchestration of our lives. For those of you that don’t think God orchestrates our lives, what do you think it means when Jesus says that he knows when a sparrow falls? (Mt. 10:28-30) During the afternoon I fluctuated between wanting to find her owner and wanted to become her owner. I was beginning to experience “puppy love.”
On the way home from school I decided to take her to the vet and see if she was microchipped. Surprise, surpise, she wasn’t. But while we were there I noticed a few balding spots so I had the vet look at them. She has demodex mites and needed medication, so $83.00 later we went home with a month’s worth of medicine and her heart firmly planted in mine. (I did do the right thing though and called animal control services and reported her found. I also put an ad on Craig’s List but I told them they would have to describe her and reimburse me. But I was hoping that no one would claim her.)
Within 24 hours she was looking at me with big, brown, adoring eyes and I was surprised at how fast she seemed to fall in love with me. I know Bailey (my first dog and the leader-of-the-pack) loves me, but not in the way Chai loves me. As I was pondering how this could be I wondered if maybe it was because Bailey knows me, even my failings? But I honestly know that I wasn’t home that much on Wednesday and hadn’t spent that much time with Chai, to have her loving me so much.
Then I thought of Jesus. One night Jesus was invited to go and eat with a Pharisee. And a woman came with an alabaster box filled with costly perfume. First she became to cry and as her tears washed his feet she dried them with her hair. Then she anointed his feet with this perfume, this very expensive oil, on the feet of Jesus. The Pharisee couldn’t see her love and adoration, all her could see was that the woman was a woman of a less-than-stellar reputation (in other words, she was a tramp.) He couldn’t understand how Jesus would let her touch even his feet. The Pharisee was judging.
But Jesus could see into the Pharisee’s heart. So Jesus decided to show the Pharisee how truly wrong he was. He told the Pharisee that there was a man who had two people that owed him money. One owed him $250 and the other $50. The man forgave both of their debts: poof, no more loan. Then Jesus asked who would love the man the most? The Pharisee said that he thought the man who had been forgiven the larger debt.
Jesus told him that he was right. Then he pointed out to the Pharisee what a bad host he had been. He had not offered Jesus water for his feet (that was considered good manners back then.) The Pharisee had not greeted Jesus with a kiss (another cultural thing.) The woman had constantly kissed Jesus’ feet. Then Jesus pointed out that she loved much, because she had been forgiven much. (Luke 7:36-50)
So I looked down at little Chai. She loved me much because she hadn’t had a good home before. She appreciated what she had gained. Bailey on the other hand didn’t remember any other home and took it all for granted. The good life is Bailey’s normal.
I think that we need to be reminded that we have been forgiven much. Oftentimes we begin to forget just how much God has given us at salvation. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doing.” (Jer. 18:9-10)
Wow! So really, we have all been forgiven much. I know I have. God took me from a life of drugs, sin, etc. and changed my heart. He took me from a life of self-loathing into a life of self-love – I love myself because He loves me. I get my value from He who lives within in me. And little Chai loves me much because she has been given much.
Note: Friday morning I was thinking about Chai and this lesson and wondering what her name meant. Then it hit. Chai with a different pronunciation is the Hebrew word for life. That’s why the toast L’Chaim – to life. The Web site Judaism 101 explains it like this:
“This symbol, commonly seen on necklaces and other jewelry and ornaments, is simply the Hebrew word Chai (living), with the two Hebrew letters Cheit and Yod attached to each other. Some say it refers to the Living God; others say it simply reflects Judaism’s focus on the importance of life. Whatever the reason, the concept of chai is important in Jewish culture. The typical Jewish toast is l’chayim (to life). Gifts to charity are routinely given in multiples of 18 (the numeric value of the word Chai).”
So God, in His infinite attention to detail, had already orchestrated this lesson for me before I ever found Chai. Furthermore, God, in helping me find Chai and bringing her into my (our) home, showed me about our new life in Christ and how we are to love Him. L’Chaim.