“Are you sure you can handle this?” I asked my impulsive husband. He mumbled something under his breath. I replied with “He’s not gonna last long, why would you commit us to something like this? “We can’t even take care of ourselves, or our kids, let alone some sickly animal.”
My eyes glanced downward, I felt a twinge of pity on this poor creature. His hips protruded from his back in the most disturbing way. His ribs projected from his fur. I could count 8 on each side. His ankles were sunken in on each side, and his muscle was nearly deteriorated on his backside. His spine distended toward the ceiling. I counted 7 vertebrae, shooting upward in an awkward half moon shape. His nose ran and his jowels were covered in slime. His fur left much to be desired. It had the potential to be a beautiful brindle and white coat, but years of neglect left it covered in dust. Then….my eyes met his.
He had the softest, kindest eyes I had ever seen on an animal. They were a deep brown, with an amber inner color. We connected much like the starts connect with the cosmos. I was suddenly in love with this fantastic beast.
“Well, kids…what do we call him?” Ideas came from everywhere. Sergeant seemed appropriate. He reminded me of a crusty old sergeant in the Army that refused to die. Ali seemed a decent name, he was a boxer. We went round and round and finally settled on the perfect name…Bones. He was a bag of bones after all. Bones it was. He was now named and part of our family.
At the time Bones came into our lives we were a mess. Our family status was up in the air. I had one foot out the door, ready to run. I was tired of being in a broken marriage. Jesus was a stranger I hadn’t met yet. I drank to escape my own personal demons, and became my own worst enemy. I was a terrible mother, I was selfish and angry all the time.
We needed a miracle. We found our miracle in Bones. What we needed was a sense of God’s forgiveness, his mercy, and his unconditional love. Bones was to be his messenger of these things. He was sent to us to reunite our family.
Bones had been mistreated. He was neglected in the most horrific ways. The rumor is that his previous owner was a crippled blind woman. She couldn’t take care of herself, so she couldn’t take care of the dog. He was emaciated. He was 45 lbs or so when we got him. The vet found rocks in his stomach, he had eaten them to ward off his hunger. He wasn’t physically abused to my knowledge…just horribly neglected.
In spite of his circumstances and health condition, he looked me straight in the eyes, wagged his tail, and kissed me. He forgave the human race much like God continues to do. He trusted us, he didn’t hold mankind’s sin against us. He believed in us. Bones showed us the power of forgiveness. Our marriage needed forgiveness.
I’m sure Bones wanted to give up many times while he was being starved and neglected. Like many of the apostles and christians of the Bible, Bones suffered until God granted mercy on him. He had a purpose and needed mercy to intervene so he could fulfill that purpose. What we needed in our marriage was to allow God to help us grant each other mercy. Much like Bones, we had a purpose and we needed the mercy of God to be able to fulfill it.
When Bones and I locked eyes the first time, he had no idea who I was. Yet…he trusted me. I could see it. He knew how to love unconditionally. He didn’t base his love for me on someone else’s actions. In spite of being nearly starved to death by another human…he decided to love me. How about 1 John 4:18. It says “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Our marriage and family needed to learn about the father’s unconditional love for us, and we needed to set unconditional love as the standard in our marriage and home.
We were meant to rescue Bones…but he ended up rescuing us. We nursed him back to health over the years. He spent 8 long years in our home. He couldn’t go to dog parks, he caught pneumonia every time he caught a cold. He was diagnosed with cancer many years ago, but lived for another 6 years despite his one year expectancy. He had his limits, but he had a long and somewhat healthy life. Even with home made food, we never were able to fatten him up, but we got him to where only a few bones were showing. He was still unsightly to most, but to us he was healed….much like our marriage. Our marriage isn’t perfect, we have our limitations, but we are now able to extend forgiveness, show mercy, and love unconditionally…just the way Bones taught us.
Stay sober my friends.