The lady pointed proudly towards Millie.
"This is Millie: the dog that changed my life!" she said to a friend.
Millie belongs to my wife and me, but she has a tremendous capacity for loving others. I don't get dog-jealous: in fact, it’s a bit of an honour that my dog is so popular.
Shirley has a small business, baking dog treats. When we met her, she had a booth at a farmers’ market, and she had just put down her own dog, so she was having a rough time of it. Millie, having accepted a free cookie (Shirley loves to give out samples), sat on Shirley's feet and let her scratch behind the ears.
The two bonded, almost immediately.
Shirley quickly became our go-to person for house/pet-sitting when we travel, and she relishes "Millie Time". When she has to go to work, she drops Millie off at her parents' place. They loved Millie from the start, and that’s led to Shirley spending more time with them. There had been some strain between them in the past, which eased as they spent time together.
Before Shirley came along, a woman named Lorraine would move in when we went away. She mentioned one day that she had seen the Bibles in our house and wondered what kind of people we were (huh?), but then felt it was OK to share her spiritual journey with us.
She had turned away from God, but decided to look for a church. The first one she walked into instantly made her feel loved, accepted, and not judged. The minister was very open and kindly and she found a place in the choir. She had a new life, which meant we lost her as a house-sitter, but then came Shirley.
There have been days when I've wondered why God moved me out of Vancouver. Why would He shift me away from the Gospel Mission and The Lord's Rain and other things I was doing?
But then, were we still in Vancouver, we wouldn’t have met Lorraine, starting the series of events that led to her decide to give the Lord another try. We wouldn’t have met Shirley, leading her to a happier time and better relations with her parents.
So you see, Drew," the Lord said the other day, "it's not about you, is it? That little dog ministers to people in ways you never could, and she had to be where they were. So I put her there."
It took four years before any of that became clear, and it's not like it was obvious: you only see these things over time.
God will do something in your life that may seem odd or nonsensical. Chances are, He already has. In the words of that prophet, Steve Winwood, "roll with it, baby!" Keep seeking Him, asking what He's up to and waiting patiently: in time, He'll show you what it's really about. I'll bet you anything it's about somebody else whose life needs to be changed.
Drew Snider is a writer and former broadcaster who pastored for ten years on Vancouver's Downtown East Side. He's an occasional guest speaker at churches and writes a blog, "Two Minutes for Cross-Checking!"
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE