By ANNIE WESCHE
And those who know your name will put their trust in you; For you, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
I was just entering my teen years when I laid eyes on the most adorable pile of puppy-fluff I’d ever seen. Sitting outside of our neighborhood store was a grocery cart tagged with a sign that read “puppies for sale” and in crayon written below that “$5 or two candy bars.” After years of dreaming about having a dog of my very own, I paid two candy bars for the last puppy in the cart and carried her home in my arms.
We grew up together, my dog and me. And while my dad may have called her “Two Bars,” I rightly named her Mocha Almond Fudge for the varying shades of brown in her fluffy fur. Mocha slept on my bed, met my nose with hers, taught me how to love long walks, comforted me in my sadness, wagged with delight in my excitement, and kept me company day after day, year after year. She was as near to the perfect dog as I could imagine – loyal, protective, affectionate, playful, obedient, and gentle. When I moved away from home for the first time she moved with me, and I found comfort and security in her loyal presence. We lived a lot of life together – more than ten years. And then one day, God set a difficult question before me: Could I give up Mocha if He asked me to?
You see, I had just begun to seriously dive into photography and had a growing vision for combining this new-found passion with my desire to do orphan advocacy work overseas. And exciting doors were beginning to open for me to take short trips to Haiti with an adoption agency! But as I moved forward with this desire, prayerfully and practically, one detail sat uncomfortably upon my heart. What was I going to do with Mocha? A natural solution would have been to ask family or friends to pet-sit, but I no longer lived near family and had only made a few good friends since moving (none of whom I felt I could impose upon with such a request). Dog boarding was a consideration, but the more I prayed about it, the more I had a growing certainty that surrendering my beloved dog was exactly what God was asking of me. Trust and surrender — in order that I could be fully freed up to follow Him through the doors He was opening.
My dog had been a true gift and blessing in my life, but now, God was asking me to give her back to Him for something even greater. And as Lilias Trotter wisely said, “It is loss to keep when God says ‘give.’” Obediently surrendering Mocha would not only free me up for ministry work, but it would, more importantly, lead me into a greater dependence upon Jesus and the deeper knowledge of His rich companionship, protection, and love. And as dear to me as my dog was, knowing Jesus and following after His purpose in my life was more important than anything else.
But what of this loyal and loved dog of mine? It mattered greatly to me that I could find her a loving home and that she thrive through the transition. So, being resolved in my heart over what I was to do, I set three very specific prayer requests before the Lord. I prayed for a widow woman who needed an older and gentle companion dog, for grandkids to come over on occasion to play, and that Mocha wouldn’t go through any sort of “doggy depression” that is common when a dog loses their owner. While it may not have seemed a big deal to others, my tender affection for my loyal dog fueled those very specific prayers. And what God did on my behalf showed me such a marvelous view of His tender mercy, kindness, and care for the details of our lives, both great and small!
When the day arrived for me to say goodbye to Mocha, her new family pulled up into our driveway and, in answer to my earnest prayers, out of the car came a widow, followed by her grandkids. They all hit it off brilliantly, and when the time came to part with Mocha, she leapt into their car, tail wagging! I had anticipated such pain in the surrender, but when I bent down to give one last kiss on the soft forehead I knew so well and snuggle one last hug into Mocha’s thick brown fur, my heart was flooded with peace, joy, and even excitement for the new chapter I was heading into with the Lord. From the moment I gave God my trusting yes, He provided in every way for me to walk it out, not only caring for my heart, but also for a faithful old dog, too.
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Elisabeth Elliot, whose frankness with truth always serves to sturdy up my soul, said in her book Gates of Splendor, “God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” When God asked me to give up Mocha, I couldn’t see how I could do it without great pain in parting with her, or what life was going to be like on the other side of that surrender. But I could put my trust in the One who had asked it of me! And life after that choice of obedience led me into truly extraordinary life-adventures and even greater points of surrender. But with each and every choice to obey Him, I have come to know Jesus more intimately, and my trust in His unfailing goodness has anchored a little deeper.
Dear friend, have you a task of obedience before you that seems difficult or even painful? May you lean into Your beloved Jesus and fully trust the One who has asked it of you. Set your soul on His worthiness, determine to obey Him, fix your heart on all that He is and all He has promised, and then lean upon His enablement. We each may have our own unique roads of surrender to walk out, but our almighty, faithful God is the same and unchanging. And for all of us, trusting in the Lord will always be met with His amazing grace!