A van pulls off of the pavement onto a country road then turns onto a smaller dirt road that appears to have little traffic. The van stops on the edge of the road and a woman exits the drivers compartment and walks to the rear of the vehicle. A minute later the woman is back in the drivers seat and a skinny yellow dog stands trembling as the van pulls quickly on to the road and speeds away. The dog doesn't attempt to follow, she just stands there looking around. She is very skinny and hungry. She sees a couple of other dogs coming down the road towards her and she decides to avoid them heading into the woods. She walks for a few minutes and then finds herself being chased by yet more dogs. Aggressive dogs. She runs deeper into the woods and finally the other dogs turn back. She slows to a walk and wanders aimlessly through the woods. She spots a rabbit and gives chase, but it disappears into a hole. She is tired and lays down by the hole to wait for the rabbit to come out. She falls asleep. It is night and very dark when she wakes up, rain is falling and she searches for some sort of shelter. The wind blows and lightning lights up the sky followed by loud roaring thunder. She sees some lights in the distance and heads in that direction. When she gets to the lights she sees a couple of cars, a shack and a dog on a chain runner. The dog spots her and starts to bark. She slinks under an old pickup to get out of the rain. The other dog keeps barking, but he is on a chain and can not reach her. She believes she is safe. Suddenly the door to the shack swings open and the figure of a large man looms in the doorway. He yells at the dog on the chain "SHUT UP!". He then begins shining a flashlight about searching for what is making his dog bark. His light lands on the eyes of the skinny yellow dog. Suddenly he is pointing a rifle at the yellow dog. She sees a flash, dirt stings her face as the unmistakable boom of a gunshot roars through her ears. She runs back into the rain as he fires another haphazard shot in her direction. She runs as fast as she can for the next several minutes, lightning flashing here and there. Thunder roaring, heavy rain pelting her, she is soaked through. She continues running unable to see clearly at times. At one point she leaps over a pile of brush and lands on something soft. There is a loud grunt and whistling sound, and the softness below her feet rises quickly throwing her off balance, but she regains her balance and continues to run. She hears a deer's hooves pounding the rocks, headed in the other direction blowing to exclaim his disgust at being "run over" by an out of control dog. The dog finally slows to a walk as she comes to a place where water is flowing into a pond. She spots a clump of cedar trees on the dam of the pond and beds down beneath them. The storm finally subsides and sunrise finds her on the move again. She sees a couple of horses and walks towards them. There are a couple of houses and a barn and some sheds. Near one of the sheds is a pile of hay. She sniffs around awhile and decides the hay is a pretty safe place to be. A man and a woman come out of one of the houses. The man spots her but doesn't come near her. Instead he and the woman get into a pickup and drive away. A woman comes out of the other house. She too spots the dog and she too drives away. The skinny yellow dog is hungry and snoops around looking for something to eat. She looks but doesn't find anything.
The following morning I got up and fed the horses and looked to see if the dog I had seen the day before was still around. I didn't see the dog so I finished feeding the horses, then the chickens, our dogs and cats and then headed back to the house to get ready for work. My wife and I stepped outside and were about to get into the truck when I saw the yellow dog that I had seen the day before. There she was laying in a pile of hay again. I pointed her out to my wife saying "the last thing we need is another dog, two is enough". My wife agreed and we both got into the truck. "I wonder if she has eaten" I said. My wife looked at me and said "I don't know". I said "I bet she is hungry". My wife agreed. I got out of the truck, got some dog food and poured it into a container as I headed for the yellow dog. She wouldn't come near me, but didn't run away either. She cowered just out of reach. I got down to her level and coaxed her a little closer. I could tell she was very hungry, but she was still too scared to come near me. I left the food for her, and then headed off to work with my wife. That evening when we pulled into the driveway our eyes searched the hay pile to see if the yellow dog was there. She was. I got some more dog food and headed in her direction. This time I didn't leave the food, but sat next to it. She made her way to it crawling low on her belly. She started to eat and I reached slowly to pet her. After a few minutes we were friends although she was still wary. She followed me back to the barn where she met my wife. My wife and I checked her over good finding that she was in good health, although she was under weight. We treated her for fleas and ticks and fed her again. I sat with her for a couple of hours as we got to know each other. I don't remember how it came to be, but we named her Sandy. We took her to the vet and found out she was already spayed. The vet confirmed that she was in good health but would need extra rations for some time to put on some more weight.
That was over two years ago and much has changed since then. I was diagnosed with cancer. I have been in and out of remission several times, had a stem-cell transplant and have had more than my share of chemo. After the Stem-cell transplant I went into a short lived remission, then took more chemo. Then went into remission and went through radiation. The radiation Oncologist said he had never met anyone who had survived as much chemotherapy as I had, and as such couldn't tell me exactly how my body would respond to the radiation. As it turned out, my body responded just fine to the radiation. I had a bit of a sore throat, but all in all it was a cake walk compared to what I had been through previously. I had another PET and CT scan after the radiation and was told I was still in remission. That was about two months ago and yesterday, I made the trip back to Little Rock for another scan. I go back in a few days for the results. I don't know what it will show, but am prepared mentally either way. I owe that state of mental preparedness to my faith and my relationship with God. I have struggled at times to understand that relationship and my role, not only in the relationship, but also in the world. We all have a place in the world and a role to fulfill and sometimes it takes courage to acknowledge that role and accept it. I believe that cancer has a role to fulfill, also. It molds us just as surely as any other life event. There are positives to having cancer just as there are negatives. Cancer forces a person to come face to face with life and death and all the "big" questions of eternity. It forces one to find the answer. The one true answer to the meaning of life. Do you know the meaning of life? Do you want to know why we are all on this circle of water and rock spinning through the cosmos. It is very simple. You, I ,We. We are all here to serve God and to be be happy doing it. Does God want us to be miserable? NEVER! God wants us to be happy, what ever our role in life happens to be. We do not get to choose our ultimate role in life. We can make choices that effect our life, but ultimately what role we have in life was determined before the foundations of the earth were laid. The Bible teaches us this. We should then be thankful that God created us for a specific role. If that role is to die an early death. Be Thankful that God thought of you and created you for a purpose. If that role is to give birth to a child that will die the next day. Be thankful.. You just helped create an Angel. There is no question of that child's salvation. What greater gift could the child receive?
How did I come to this knowledge? I came by it through observation of my relationship with my animals. God gave us dominion over the animal kingdom. Humanity is NOT a God to the animal kingdom, however that relationship that exist between animal and man is in some ways representative of Man's relationship with God. We can learn a lot by watching the animal world. Our influences on it are not unlike the influences God has on our lives. For instance I have a dog named "Polar". Polar is a 100 plus pounds of pure dumb mutt with a heart of gold. She is epileptic and she must be given Phenobarbital twice daily to control her seizures. There is something special about this dog as other animals adore her. If you put a cow in the pen with her, the cow will follow her around continuously. Put in a Goat and the goat will soon be her pillow. There are pictures on my Face book page if you doubt this. What ever animal is kept with Polar ends up loving Polar. The flip side to this is that Polar is the hardest dog I have ever had to try and contain. She also doesn't have the sense to find her way home once she is out. The last time she got out, I got a call from a neighbor about a mile away as the crow flies. Polar was setting on her front porch and wouldn't leave. Polar had made her way down a very steep hillside, through thick briars, crossed a river and had been skunked to arrive on this person's porch. The point is that she is incapable of finding her way home. She is fearless and to the right person would be downright intimidating when she charged them looking for affection. If there is a loose place in the fence she will find it. She constantly checks for weaknesses in the fence and if one exist, she bull-dozes her way through it. She is contained by a chain link fence with cross ties laid end to end at the base of it. The chain link also has an electrified ribbon running the entire perimeter near the top. If Polar was left to her own, she would not make it very long. She would be hit by a car, shot by a scared person, attacked by a wild animal, kicked by a horse, or simply get lost and starve to death. She has no hunting instincts at all. She requires companionship. Some dogs are fine being alone. Polar is not one of them. She must have a companion. All of that said, she has a role in life, and that role is to comfort others, whether the "others" are from the animal kingdom or the human kingdom, Polar comforts. This is her preordained role in life that I believe she has accepted. We contain her for her own good to protect her from what would surely befall her, if she were left to roam. I think God protects us in this same manner. Have you ever wanted something that was just not meant to be? Maybe it is more money or a better car. It could be anything. What would happen if you got everything that you wanted? Would you be happy? Would it change you? If it did change you, would it be for the better? God knows how it would effect you. God places boundaries on each of us, just as I place a fence to set Polar's boundaries. God sets obstacles to form our boundaries. Would you trade your salvation for a pot of Gold? God removes that temptation through obstacles so that many of us never have to make that choice. Thank God.
I have another Dog named Sandy. You read about how she came to be with us in the beginning of this story. Sandy is not fenced, she is free to leave at any time. She chooses to stay here and makes a good watch dog. She greets all visitors with a bark and the wag of her tail and is still wary of new faces. We don't have to worry about her biting someone because she is simply too scared to get that close to new people at first. A few minutes later and she is their new best friend. She is very smart. It takes only about 20 minutes to teach her a trick. She is gentle and can be seen bathing a cat on any given day. She has hunting skills, but chooses not to exercise those skills on our chickens. Her role is to serve us by letting the whole place know when something or someone is around. She stays very close to home and I have never had a complaint of her being on anyone else s property. She is content in her role. And as a result, she has her freedom and more attention and interaction with people than our other dogs that are fenced. Her reward for being content and the ability to self-contain herself is her freedom. What a concept. Humans are no different. If we are spiritually mature enough to maintain our own boundaries, our reward from God will be fewer obstacles. We must be content in our role and willing to abide within a set of boundaries. If we are not, God will place obstacles in-order to form the boundaries that we need.
What if Sandy left and went to live at another house on a busy road with owners who neglected her. Owners who never trimmed her nails, treated her for fleas or ticks. Owners who didn't pick the thorns from her feet or seek medical treatment for her when she needed it? She would be just as free, but her life would be much more dangerous. She would run the risk of being ran over by a car. She would be in more pain, more often. She would hunger and would be forced to provide for herself at times instead of relying on me. Her life would be much harder and she would likely die an earlier death. I would hope that if that ever happened, she would remember the love that she had here and she would return to us, for our sake and hers. It is much the same with God and humanity. We can refuse to accept God's will for us, our Role. We can run off and drink liquor to excess and live an unhealthy lifestyle. We can have sex with multiple partners and run the risk of disease. We can be unfaithful to our spouses and destroy our own foundations for happiness. We can do all those things and suffer the consequences of those actions. God will always be waiting for us to return. The grace of God is boundless. We can return to God at anytime. For our own sake, and for God's sake. This makes God happy. God wants to protect us. It is our reward for serving God.
I have yet another dog named Sidney. Sidney is in many respects, much like Sandy. He could be left outside the fence and he would do just fine. He wouldn't chase the horses or cows. He wouldn't bite anyone and he would hang around and always find his way home. He is in a fence though. Why? His role is to be a companion to Polar. She requires this. Mentally she is weaker than the other dogs. It is just how she is. So Sydney is confined to a fence through no fault of his own. This is just his role in life, and he appears happy with it. So what is to be learned from this? That life is not fair? That is true, but I don't think it is the lesson that we should take away from this. The lesson is that we should be grateful to God for our existence no matter what role is chosen for us. We should make the best of that role no matter what. If this means we are found guilty of a crime we didn't commit and must spend our life, behind bars. Then so be it. If it means we have some disease. Then so be it. We must embrace our role and make the most of it, even though we may not understand it. If my role is too be done with cancer. I will embrace it. If my role is to live with cancer, I will embrace it. If my role is to die with cancer, I will embrace it and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and me that I had the opportunity to serve God.
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